Senators Ellis, Shapiro Announce Legislation to Create Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission
Legislation will serve as clearinghouse for information on the Holocaust and genocide
events for the state, public and private schools, and community organizations.
AUSTIN — On the 64th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) announced legislation that will honor victims and survivors of the Holocaust and genocide. Representatives Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) and Ellen Cohen (D-Houston) have filed an identical bill, House Bill 795, in the Texas House of Representatives.
"We must all stand up and recognize that genocide continues to take place all over the world. 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."
"There is no more appropriate day to announce this legislation," Shapiro said. "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. 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."
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. Texas would become the 13th state to create such a commission.
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, millions 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.
This 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 have no access to Holocaust and genocide information, are able to access resources that are available in larger cities.
"This commission will be a clearinghouse of information on the Holocaust and genocide," Shapiro said. "There are many centers around the state that teach about the Holocaust, but we lack one central repository of information to connect all of our university study programs or public school libraries with these facilities. This commission can be the go-to organization for anyone interested in learning about tolerance and the grave consequences that can occur when there is none."
"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."