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KSC, NH Legislature, and Gov. Hassan Establish Genocide Awareness Month

Governor Hassan signing HB 1444 into law
Governor Hassan signing HB 1444 into law

Governor Maggie Hassan Signs HB 1444 into Law at Keene State

Keene State College today proudly announces that April has been established as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month in the State of New Hampshire. Keene State College staff from the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, as well as Keene State faculty and students pushed to mark the month of April to raise awareness of the atrocity of genocide. Keene State faculty, staff, and students, as well as community members and other supporters of the bill, gathered today on the College campus as Governor Maggie Hassan signed House Bill 1444 into law.

“By raising awareness about the heinous crime of genocide, we can help fight against the dangers of intolerance and hatred,” Governor Maggie Hassan said. “I thank Representative Chase, Senator Kelly, Keene State College and other advocates for their efforts on this bipartisan legislation that makes New Hampshire the fourth state to recognize Genocide Awareness Month, reinforcing the Granite State’s status as a compassionate leader in the march toward full inclusion in society for all people.”

“With the overwhelming support of both the New Hampshire House and Senate, this new law will become a catalyst in bringing more attention to the crime of genocide through facilitating public discourse and awareness, while nurturing the responsibility to protect others,” said Tom White, coordinator of educational outreach for the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College. “There are a growing number of New Hampshire citizens who have escaped atrocity and seek to reconstruct their lives amongst us. We strengthen our communities by respecting those who seek refuge amongst us while honoring their witness. As genocide seeks to destroy the fabric of life for one group, we can choose to rebuild and repair. The more we educate about genocide, the more we seek to remove humanity, as far as possible, from its threat.”

Inspired by a speaker at Keene State’s Cohen Center Civic Leadership Summer Institute, NH Representative Cynthia Chase (District 8) submitted HB 1444 to make New Hampshire the fourth state after Minnesota, California and Texas, to adopt this type of legislation. Fellow New Hampshire State Senator Molly Kelly was a prime supporter of the bill. Two Keene State College students, Katherine Marren and Charlotte Meyers, who are studying in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program, provided valuable testimony on the need for this recognition every year.

Rep. Chase coordinated her efforts with Tom White in gathering testimony in favor of the bill. Along with students Katherine Marren and Charlotte Meyers, Cohen Fellows Meg Cyr and Deb Barry, and Holocaust survivors Stephan Lewy and Kathy Preston, provided testimony to the state legislature. Cohen Professor Dr. James Waller, Keene State Assistant Professor John Sturtz, and Rick Kaufman of Strafford, NH, submitted written testimony. Cohen Fellow Melinde Lutz Byrne worked to support the bill.

One-minute video of the bill signing

View the full remarks from Governor Maggie Hassan

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