Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
April 7, 2009
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

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:

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."