California Governor Gavin Newsom recently declared that Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, observed annually on April 24, would become a statewide holiday, known as Genocide Awareness Day.
A statement from the governor’s office said the new Genocide Remembrance Day will be “a day for all to reflect on past and present genocides, but especially those who felt the impact of these atrocities and the groups who found refuge. in California, including but not limited to the Holocaust, the Holodomor, and the genocides of the Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Cambodian, and Rwandan communities.
An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were deported or killed by Ottoman troops between 1915 and 1923.
The resolution, which was approved by the California State Assembly and Senate without a single dissenting vote, means that community colleges and public schools will be allowed to close on Genocide Awareness Day and that employees of the State will be entitled to paid leave.
USC Shoah Finci-Viterbi Foundation Acting Executive Director Kori Street said dedicating a day in memory of the millions of victims and survivors of the genocide is a bold and important statement.
“This symbolic action is another tool to discourage the denial of the Armenian Genocide, the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 and other mass atrocities,” Dr Street said. “We hope this new national holiday will encourage all Californians to join and commemorate with all communities affected by the genocide.
“Commemorations like Genocide Awareness Day open a space for public reflection and dialogue, highlighting the voices of survivors and helping us all to remember the terrible cost of genocide to communities around the world.”
Governor Newsom’s announcement follows President Joe Biden’s acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide last year – a recognition long sought by the large Armenian community in the United States.
The USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive contains over 600 indexed audio and video accounts of the J. Michael Hagopian and the Armenian Film Foundation and the Richard G. Hovannisian Armenian Genocide Oral History Collection.
These form the basis of a wide range of resources for educators to teach their students about the Armenian Genocide and include early Eastern languages and Western Armenian language content appear on I testifythe Institute’s free educational website that reaches millions of students each year.
The Institute also launched this year the first IWalk dedicated to an Armenian Genocide memorial site, a one-hour guided tour of the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial Monument in Montebello, California.
Launched in 2014 and available for IOS and Android devices, the IWalk mobile app connects visitors to important historic sites with photographs, maps, and testimonies from the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.
Last summer, a group of 18 student interns in grades 9 through 12 visited the Montebello monument and participated in the IWalk tour as part of the USC Shoah Foundation’s William P. Lauder Junior Internship Program.
As they walked around the monument site, the IWalk app showed the interns VHA clips of Armenian American researcher Dr. Richard G. Hovannisian depicting monument founder and Armenian Genocide survivor Hagop Asadourian talking about the importance of Memory.
Among those accompanying the student visit in late July were Lydia Minasian, wife of Michael Minasian, one of the founding members of the Armenian Monuments Council, and their daughter, Ani.
“It is very rewarding for us to see the next generation of thinkers and leaders visit and interact with the site, and to see the IWalk resource in action with live users,” said Ani Minasian.
USC Shoah Foundation learning and development specialist Sedda Antekelian said the visit to Montebello helped students understand that the impacts of a century-old genocide are still being felt — near home. them – to this day.
“The greater Los Angeles area encompasses a large Armenian American diaspora population. Having the students visit this key site and engage with the IWalk provided an opportunity to connect with the history of this local community and reflect on the importance of being an honest man,” said Antekelian.