On Thursday, September 18, 2014, CA Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed AB 1915, the Armenian Genocide Education Act, into law reported the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA WR). The bill adds Armenian Genocide survivor and witness oral testimonies into the teachings of human rights in California public schools and encourages professional development activities and resource development for teachers to teach about the Genocide. Authored by Assembly member Adrin Nazarian, AB 1915 builds upon the first legislation passed in 1985, AB 1273, which led to the incorporation of the Armenian Genocide into the History-Social Studies Curriculum Framework
“ANCA WR commends Governor Brown for his unyielding support throughout the years on issues of importance to the Armenian American community and for making history today by signing this critical bill into law, and co-authors Assemblymembers Nazarian and Katcho Achadjian along and Senators De Leon and Mark Wyland for their leadership in moving this bill through the CA Assembly and CA Senate with unanimous support,” stated Nora Hovsepian, ANCA WR Chair.
On August 12, 2014, representatives of the ANCA WR met with the Governor’s office to urge Governor Brown to sign AB 1915 into law. The meeting, which was facilitated by Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian’s office, included ANCA-WR Education Committee Chairperson Alice Petrossian; Legislative Affairs Director Haig Baghdassarian; Genocide Education Project Board Member Roxanne Makasdjian; Hrag Kitsinian, Legislative Aide to Nazarian and Cathy McBride, senior education policy adviser to the Governor. During the meeting, Petrossian, Baghdassarian, Makasdjian and Kitsinian forcefully advocated for the enactment of the proposed law, pointing out to Ms. McBride that contrary to its inclusion in the History-Social Science Curriculum Framework, the Armenian Genocide has not been taught in the majority of public schools. Ms. McBride drew attention to Governor’s Brown consistent support for Armenian Genocide recognition, as exemplified by his annual April 24 proclamations.
“The Armenian Genocide Education Act (AB 1915) is an issue near and dear to my heart, having myself descended from survivors of the horrific atrocities befallen the Armenian people. Only through education and remembrance can we heal our pain and never repeat the mistakes of the past,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “I would also like to give a special thanks to several champions of this bill, Governor Jerry Brown, Assemblymembers Katcho Achadjian, and Scott Wilk, Ms. Kay Mouradian, and my dear friends at the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region,” added Nazarian.
In late August, AB 1915 received unanimous support in the California State Senate with a vote of 36-0 under the leadership of incoming Senate President Pro Tem, Kevin De Leon, and in late May in the California Assembly with a vote of 77-0 under the leadership of the author of the bill, Assemblymember Nazarian.
In the months, weeks, and days leading up to today’s vote, the ANCA Western Region worked closely with legislators to ensure they learned of the broad, enthusiastic support for the measure.
“This is yet another example of what is possible when we unite and make our collective voice heard. Our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude goes out to our grassroots for their unprecedented level of activism, which resulted in this bill becoming law. Your voice, through the action alerts, phone calls, meetings with officials, social media posts, and participation in our Advocacy Day in Sacramento made this victory possible,” stated Elen Asatryan, Executive Director of ANCA WR. “The ANCA Western Region, its Education Committee, and local chapters look forward to working with the Department of Education and school districts across the State to ensure that future generations learn about the Armenian Genocide of 1915,” added Asatryan.
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.
Coauthors of AB 1915 on the Assembly side include Assembly Members Achadjian, Ammiano, Ian Calderon, Fox, Hall, Holden, Nestande, Patterson, and Wilk. Coauthors on the Senate side include Senators Berryhill, Lara, Vidak, and Wyland.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.