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KSC Community Advocates for Genocide Awareness Month

Gov. Hassan signs the Genocide Awareness Month legislation into law, flanked by Holocaust survivors and KSC leadership, faculty, students, and alums. (Lynn Roman photo)
Gov. Hassan signs the Genocide Awareness Month legislation into law, flanked by Holocaust survivors and KSC leadership, faculty, students, and alums. (Lynn Roman photo)

Thanks to a strong and committed contingent of Keene state faculty, students, and alums, New Hampshire became the fourth state (after Minnesota, California, and Texas) to pass a law designating a Genocide Awareness Month. In New Hampshire, that month is now April—on Sept. 3rd, Governor Maggie Hassan gathered with a standing-room only crowd at the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies on campus to sign House Bill 1444 into law.

Katherine Marren and Charlotte Meyers, two juniors in Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies James Waller’s introductory genocide class, spearheaded the push for the legislation after hearing Dr. Waller explain how students could make a difference in the face of genocide within their communities as well as on campus. "We were both struck by the idea that we could help implement a bill that would bring state-wide genocide awareness," the students said. "We both feel that the best way to prevent genocide and further human conflict is through awareness and education of communities." The pair gave moving testimony before the legislature in Concord.

NH Representative and Education adjunct faculty Cynthia Chase (District 8), inspired by a speaker at Keene State’s Cohen Center Civic Leadership Project, submitted HB 1444 to designate April Genocide Awareness Month. NH State Senator and KSC alum Molly Kelly ’83 supported the bill in the senate.

“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. “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 with 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.”

Sorry you missed the bill signing? Catch it in this KSC Minute video.

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