How Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day Will Be Observed in Southern California

A bill establishing Genocide Remembrance Day as a state holiday was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom Sept. 29.

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Schools will be closed Monday in the Los Angeles and Glendale unified school districts to commemorate Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and there will be a rally in Little Armenia to mark the 108th anniversary of the start of the events that are widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.

The LAUSD Board of Education adopted a policy in 2020 to close schools on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. Students and teachers in the Glendale Unified School District have been given the day off on April 24 for Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day since the 2013-14 school year.

A bill establishing Genocide Remembrance Day as a state holiday to be observed on April 24 and permitting public schools and community colleges to close in observance of this holiday was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom Sept. 29. California is home to one of the largest Armenian communities in the country.

In 2021, President Joe Biden became the first American president to officially declared the killing and deportation of millions of Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire as a "genocide."

It was something that was greatly avoided by many in the White House our of fear of damaging important relations with Turkey, which is a NATO ally and holds power in the Middle East.

"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,'' Newsom wrote in his signing message for AB 1801 by then-Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-North Hollywood.

Events in Southern California

The "Armenian Genocide Commemorative Rally for Justice'' is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue. It is organized by Unified Young Armenians, which also organized a rally Sunday outside the Azerbaijan Consulate in Brentwood seeking an immediate end to Azerbaijan's blockade of the Lachin Corridor.

Glendale will conduct its 22nd annual Armenian Genocide Commemorative Event at 7 p.m. at the Alex Theatre, with the theme, "The Armenian Experience Through the Lens,'' celebrating the 100th anniversary of Armenian cinema.

The program will begin with a tribute to the atrocities in the Nagorno Karabakh region in an attempt to raise awareness of humanitarian crises. It will also include a preview of Armenia's submission for the 2024 Oscars best international film category, "Aurora's Sunrise,'' an animated documentary based on the life of Aurora Mardiganian, an Armenian Genocide survivor who after her escape became an actress in the United States.

The keynote address will be delivered by actor Joe Manganiello, who will discuss intergenerational trauma, drawing from his familial history and the story of his maternal great-grandmother, Terviz "Rose'' Darakijan, who survived the Armenian Genocide, organizers said.

On April 24, 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople, leading to an estimated 1.5 million people being killed. Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

"As we join nations around the world in remembering this painful history, we also reflect on the resilience and resolve of the Armenian people,'' President Joe Biden said in a statement on what the White House
billed as Armenian Remembrance Day. "So many of those who survived were forced to begin new lives in new lands -- including the United States.

"Here and around the world, the Armenian people have met the evil of hate with hope. They rebuilt their communities. They nurtured their families and preserved their culture. They strengthened our nation. They also told their stories -- and those of their ancestors -- to remember and to ensure that genocide like the one that happened 108 years ago is never again repeated.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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