Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission Act


April 7, 2009

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"In addition to the Holocaust, there have been five major genocide events in the 20th century, including the Armenian, Cambodian, Rwandan, Bosnian and Herzegovinian, and Sudanese genocides. Survivors, liberators and others who witnessed these atrocities have died without leaving their lessons of survival and humanity. According to the Holocaust Museum Houston, six Holocaust survivors have died within the last six months in Houston alone."


Gov. Perry Ceremonially Signs SB 482 Creating Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission

August 18, 2009

AUSTIN -- Gov. Rick Perry today ceremonially signed Senate Bill (SB) 482, which creates the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission to help preserve information and experiences of the Holocaust and other genocide events. The commission will work with organizations, agencies, museums, survivors and liberators to provide information and experiences and to coordinate memorial events in the state.

"As a state and nation, we are compelled to prevent future episodes of genocide and oppression by casting the light of truth on their history and educating our citizens on the circumstances that allow their occurrence," Gov. Perry said. "Ultimately, that truth, and the willingness to defend the vulnerable among us will lead to greater justice. I believe this bill is an important statement of the values we hold dear in this state- those of respecting human life and valuing freedom for all men and women."

The creation of this commission will give schools and organizations in smaller communities access to resources and information about the Holocaust and genocide that they would otherwise have little access to. The commission will consist of 18 members- 15 appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker, with the commissioner of education, commissioner of higher education and executive director of the Texas Veterans Commission acting as ex-officio members.

"As a child of Holocaust survivors, I have lived the lessons of that horrific event all my life, but there are generations of people who have no access to the lessons and teachings of this historic tragedy," Sen. Florence Shapiro said. "The intolerance of that period remains a contemporary issue today that young people need to learn about. It is my hope that this legislation will help provide the information necessary to ensure that we never forget."

In addition to the Holocaust, there have been five major genocide events in the 20th century, including the Armenian, Cambodian, Rwandan, Bosnian and Herzegovinian, and Sudanese genocides. Survivors, liberators and others who witnessed these atrocities have died without leaving their lessons of survival and humanity. According to the Holocaust Museum Houston, six Holocaust survivors have died within the last six months in Houston alone.

"I am very proud to have authored this bill with my good friend Senator Shapiro. We must all stand up and recognize that genocide continues to take place all over the world. 64 years ago it was Eastern Europe. Today, it is Darfur," Sen. Rodney Ellis said. "The Holocaust and Genocide Commission is Texas' effort to ensure that our schools and communities have the resources they need to teach our kids and neighbors to do what is morally right when faced with such atrocities."

"This bill means that all communities and particularly rural areas across Texas will have the opportunity to learn about what can happen if good people do not stand up to be counted," Rep. Ellen Cohen said. "It will help educate young people, who will be the future leaders of their chamber of commerce, school board or Girl Scout troop, that while we may take exception to the views of others we can and must do so in a respectful and civil manner."

Gov. Perry continues to advocate for the human rights of oppressed people around the world. The governor has signed legislation calling for divestment of state funds that have a direct relationship to the atrocities happening in Sudan. The governor has also called for divestment of state funds from Iran, a main opponent of Israeli freedom.

Read the official press release from the office of Texas Governor Rick Perry on the ceremonial signing of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission Act.


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Senate Passes Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission Legislation

Legislation will serve as clearinghouse for information on the Holocaust and genocide events for the state, public and private schools, and community organizations.

(Austin)-The Texas Senate today unanimously passed SB 482, legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) which will honor victims and survivors of the Holocaust and genocide.

"We must all stand up and recognize that genocide continues to take place all over the world" said Senator Ellis. "Sixty-four years ago it was eastern Europe. Today, it is Darfur. Senate Bill 482 is Texas' effort to ensure that our schools and our communities have the resources they need to teach our kids and our neighbors to do what is morally right when faced with such atrocities."

Senate Bill 482 will create a commission dedicated to obtaining, organizing, and distributing information on the Holocaust and other genocide events to preserve the information and experiences that have resulted from those events. The legislation is modeled after the Holocaust Commission in Georgia. Several other states, including Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio and New Jersey also have similar commissions.

The Holocaust, where 6 million Jews and 5 million others were murdered -- is one of the defining moments in human history, but its horrors and tragedies, unfortunately, do not stand alone. In the 20th Century, several million people have been killed in the five other generally recognized genocides other than the Holocaust:

-Armenian Genocide (1915 -- 1923) -- more than 1.5 million;

-Cambodian Genocide (1975 -- 1979) -- more than 1.5 million;

-Rwandan Genocide (1994) -- estimated 500,000 - 800,000;

-Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992 -- 1995) -- as many as 200,000; and

-Darfur region of Sudan (2003 +) -- estimated 400,000.

The commission is needed to chronicle and preserve the memories and experiences of those in Texas who have lived through the Holocaust or genocide. In Houston alone, six survivors of the Holocaust have died within the last six months, according to Holocaust Museum Houston. The commission will ensure that schools and organizations in smaller communities, which don't have access to Holocaust and genocide information, have access to resources that are available in larger cities.

"Tragic events fueled by intolerance did not begin or end with the Holocaust", said Senator Ellis. "There are over 350 Holocaust survivors in the Houston area and thousands more who have been touched by the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan and more. These men and women's stories, experiences and memories must be honored and preserved to ensure future generations never forget and remain vigilant against the forces of intolerance, hatred, and violence."

Read the official press release from the office of Texas State Rep. Rodney Ellis on the passage of SB 482, the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission Act.