By Danielle Saroyan
Last week, the Michigan State Government held a signing ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan for the Genocide Education: Governor’s Advisory Council & Curriculum and Assessment, House Bill 4493. This bill was approved by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on June 13, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
HB 4493 was spearheaded by State Representative Klint Kesto with strong support of the Armenian Genocide Education Committee (AGEC), Armenian Assembly Michigan Director John Jamian, and the entire community. Jamian, an active member of the AGEC, was also a former Member of the Michigan House of Representatives as well as past Executive Director of the Armenian Assembly.
“This foundation was laid since Edgar Hagopian and I started working on it over 15 years ago. Thank you to former Governor John Engler and the legislature for officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide by embedding it into State Law in 2002,” Jamian stated. “We worked tirelessly to get this accomplished and today we have a new education law that builds upon those earlier foundations. What a fitting tribute to the Armenian Genocide Education Committee and to our survivors.”
During the ceremony, AGEC Chairman Ed Haroutunian thanked Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for signing HB4493 into law, as well as other State Senators and Assembly members in support of this bill.
“The passing of Michigan HB4493 ultimately resulted because the Jewish community and the Armenian community worked together for a common purpose,” Haroutunian said during the ceremony. “I’d like to think that the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide victims would approve of this legislation to allowing Michigan high school students to learn of past atrocities in an effort to prevent them from recurring in the future. Governor Snyder, thank you very much for signing the bill into law. We look forward to working with you in the implementation of the law,” he added.
HB 4493 amends the Revised School Code and requires that the Michigan’s social studies curriculum in high school and state-wide assessment program include instruction and testing about genocides, including the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. In addition, the bill establishes the Governor’s Council on Genocide and Holocaust Education as a temporary commission. The 15-member council, set up by Governor Snyder, would be advisory and privately funded.
“On behalf of the Armenian Assembly, I would like to thank John Jamian, the Armenian Genocide Education Committee, and the Michigan Legislature for supporting progressive ideas of human rights education that helps prepare better citizens to face future challenges,” Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny said.
Michigan follows six other U.S. states that have approved genocide curriculum mandates, including Illinois, California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.
For other resources on Armenian Genocide education, see the Armenian National Institute’s page, “Armenian Genocide and Human Rights Curricula.
Photo Caption: Armenian Genocide Education Commitee (AGEC) and Armenian Assembly of America Michigan Director John Jamian at the signing ceremony in Farmington Hills, Michigan on June 26 with Governor Rick Snyder.