California State Senate Passes SR 29 Commemorating Armenian Genocide & Calling for Return of Historic Church Property
The Promise Screens in Sacramento & State Senator Shares Saroyan’s Words in Armenian on the Senate Floor
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Senator Anthony Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) is proud to announce that on April 17, the California State Senate passed Senate Resolution 29 declaring April as a month of Armenian Genocide Recognition, commemorating the Armenian Genocide, calling for Turkey to return historic church properties to rightful congregations and requesting that the United States Government formally recognize the Armenian Genocide.
In his floor speech presenting SR 29, State Senator Anthony Portantino outlined the importance of the State Senate’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide for California residents and for the United States. He also shared details of the resilience of the Armenian people by reciting passages from William Saroyan in the Armenian language.
“It is an honor to represent the largest Armenian American community in the country and to be entrusted to appropriately commemorate the Genocide in the State Senate. It is our hope that California’s loud and clear voice once and for all gives Washington and the President the confidence to do the right thing and help people finally have the chance to heal from the horror perpetrated 102 years ago,” commented Portantino.
Senator Portantino’s full speech can be watched in the video below.
A video of Portantino’s close can be found below.
SR 29 was authored by Portantino and co-authored by the other members of the State Senate California, Armenian & Artsakh Select Committee: Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, Scott Wilk, Tony Mendoza and Josh Newman. Portantino is the Chair of the Select Committee.
In addition to recognizing actress Angela Sarafyan from The Promise on the Senate floor, Portantino and the Senate Select Committee helped facilitate the California Capitol screening of The Promise during Advocacy Day. Academy Award winning Director Terry George from The Promise was hosted at a reception in the State Capitol prior to the passage of SR 29. The State Senate ceremony began with a prayer from Very Reverend Father Dajad Ashekian and Very Reverend Father Pakrad Berjekian. Homenetmen Scouts from Santa Clara Ani Chapter conducted the Pledge of Allegiance and a broad coalition of Armenian American community leaders were introduced by Portantino as part of Advocacy Day during the commemoration.
In addition, members of the California Legislature on Monday commemorated the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, even as the United States of America continues to turn a blind eye to the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians.
“We commemorate the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide to remember the 1.5 million souls lost and to celebrate the Armenian’s contributions to California,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “Through vigilance and education we can banish genocide to our history books.”
“Armenian-Americans have not only survived, they have thrived and enriched the fabric of our communities. The genocide is about real people and real stories. For me it is about my wife Vanessa and her family, people I love and who are Armenian-Americans,” said Wilk. “By remembering the horror of the genocide we are taking steps to ensure it never happens again.”
Earlier this year the Armenian Caucus, in partnership with the California Arts Council, launched its 3rd Annual Essay and Inaugural Visual Arts Scholarship. Both are open to any California high school student.
The three prompts for the essay scholarship are:
- They have been hired to work for a still-to-be-constructed Armenian-American National Museum, with the museum to be located in Glendale, California.
- They have received word from the museum director that one wing of the museum will be entitled Notable Armenian Americans.
- They are to share with the director, in the form of an “internal memo,” one name that should be featured in this wing of the museum and the reason(s) that this name should so be featured.
The winners of the 3rd Annual Essay Scholarship are:
- Tigranuhi Tina Ter-Akopyan | 9th Grade | James Monroe High School
- Ramiro Archila | 10th Grade | San Fernando High School
- Samantha Randell | 10th Grade | Claremont High School
The Visual Art Scholarship theme was “Human-to-Human Interaction,” and the criteria was:
- Only two-dimensional, visual art submissions will be accepted. Submission types are limited to drawings, paintings, photographs, digital illustrations and graphic design.
- Submissions may not exceed an 11×17 frame and must weigh less than 25 pounds.
The winners of the Inaugural Annual Visual Art Scholarship are:
- Hanna Hitchcock | 12th Grade | Salinas High School
- Bora Wie | 12th Grade | Richard Gahr High School
- Gavny Vardanyan | 12th Grade | North Hollywood High School
During the Senate and Assembly Floor Sessions Senator Wilk and Assemblymember Nazarian honored two outstanding Armenian-Americans and presented them with Joint Legislative Resolutions commemorating the genocide:
- Salpi H. Ghazarian, USC Institute of Armenian Studies leader, for her contributions to addressing and resolving national and global challenges in Armenian communities.
- Salpy Kerkonian, flutist and specialist in the interpretation of music by Armenian composers.
Wilk and Nazarian also provided legislators with the book, Bread from Stones, by author Keith David Watenpaugh.
The Armenian Caucus was formed in 2015. It is a platform for Armenian-American voices at a statewide level and is open to all legislators, Armenian or not, who are interested in learning more about the community’s issues.