Last genocide survivor passes as Genocide Education is brought to forefront of California curricula
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee unanimously passed AB 1915, The Armenian Genocide Education Act, with a vote of 7-0. The human rights education measure authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D – Sherman Oaks), will require the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the list of studied subject areas for the adopted courses of study in Social Science for 7-12. It will also encourage the incorporation of an oral history component into the teaching of human rights, and genocides, including the Holocaust, Armenian, Cambodian, Darfur, and Rwandan genocides.
The introduction of this measure comes at a defining point, in not only working towards a more comprehensive curriculum about the Armenian Genocide, but also in having the international community recognize an atrocity that has for too long been overlooked.
With the centennial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide quickly approaching, a very frail few survivors remain to tell their stories from the horrors they experienced during this dark chapter in world history. The passage of AB 1915 out of this committee follows the passing of Nellie Nazarian, the last Armenian Genocide survivor from Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts, reminding us that increased education on the subject is much needed before there are no survivors left. Nellie escaped the massacre in her native village of Chimisgazag by taking refuge in the mountains with her family before immigrating to America in the early 1920’s. “It is important to remember the stories of those who experienced violations to human rights. I hope that the passage of this legislation brings some closure for the remaining survivors of all genocides. To educate our students on the Armenian Genocide, as well as other atrocities that have taken place, will ensure that the innocent did not die in vain. This bill is for the survivors and those who perished.” said Assemblymember Nazarian.
Nellies story joins the thousands which have been thoroughly detailed in documentaries and memoirs describing the suffering experienced by survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Oral Histories will be a vital tool for educators to utilize in strengthening genocide curricula and further raise consciousness of the Armenian Genocide in California’s educational system.
Currently, California is one of 11 states, including Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia, which have the Armenian Genocide included in their curriculum. The California Model Curriculum developed by the Department of Education, includes the Armenian Genocide as a recommended topic to teach. However, schools aren’t required to follow this Model Curriculum.
AB 1915 will be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Committee, then head to the Senate floor for vote.