California declares Armenian Genocide remembrance day a state holiday

California declares Armenian Genocide remembrance day a state holiday

PanARMENIAN.Net - California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday, September 30 signed a bill declaring April 24 a state holiday in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.

The legislation (AB 1801), introduced by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, mandates that every year on April 24 all community colleges and public schools throughout California will close. State employees will be given time off with pay.

“The Legislature finds and declares that Genocide Remembrance Day would be a day for all to reflect on past and present genocides, but especially those that have felt the impact of these atrocities and groups that have found refuge in California, including, but not limited to, the Holocaust, Holodomor, and the Genocides of the Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Cambodian, and Rwandan communities. Genocide Remembrance Day would be observed annually on April 24, also known as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, during the week the state of California traditionally recognizes Genocide Awareness Week,” the text of the legislation said, according to Asbarez.

The text further states that on April 24 or on an alternate date “public schools and educational institutions throughout this state may include exercises, funded through existing resources, remembering and honoring the many contributions that survivors of genocide have made to this country. The State Board of Education may adopt a model curriculum guide to be available for use by public schools for exercises related to Genocide Remembrance Day.”

“I am signing Assembly Bill 1801 , which establishes Genocide Remembrance Day as a state holiday to be observed on April 24, and permits public schools and community colleges to close in observance of this holiday. This bill also permits state employees to utilize eight hours of vacation, annual leave, or compensating time off in lieu of receiving eight hours of personal holiday credit to observe Genocide Remembrance Day,” said Newsom in a signing statement.

“Genocide commemoration is more than a history lesson. It is a powerful tool to engage people across generations in the sanctity of human rights, the enormity of crimes, and how to prevent future atrocities. Establishing a state holiday that commemorates genocides – both past and present – provides space for groups to heal and sends a powerful signal about our California values. Importantly, California continues to lead by example, with a strong record of providing refuge to countless groups suffering through the atrocity of genocide,” Newsom added.

“I am immensely proud of the richness of diversity and backgrounds represented in our state and understand the importance of wanting to see one’s own experience reflected in state holidays. While I am signing this bill and two other bills that also mark two significant days, before increasing the number of state holidays beyond the more than a dozen already recognized, I encourage the Legislature to identify criteria to help evaluate and inform future establishment of additional state holidays,” concluded Newsom.

Nazarian introduced the legislation in the State Assembly in February, receiving unanimous approval by various legislative committees and on May 26 passed the entire Assembly by a vote of 75 to 0. After its passage in the Assembly, the bill went to the State Senate where it also received unanimous support. The final, reconciled, version was approved by the State Assembly in August and was sent to Newsom for his signature.

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