SKOKIE – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to expand the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission, increasing its ability to reach even more people across Illinois with its important message. The commission works with Holocaust survivors to increase public awareness of the Holocaust and other genocides through educational programs, events and outreach efforts. The Governor signed the legislation at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie as part of his agenda to ensure Illinois embraces all people.
“It is important that we never forget the millions of lives lost not only in the Holocaust, but all terrible acts of genocide throughout history,” Governor Quinn said. “The Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission works to ensure tolerance among our future generations. I urge all residents to strive to overcome hate and indifference through learning and acceptance.”
Senate Bill 3129, sponsored by State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) and State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), increases the number of commission members from 18 to 22, and ensures that one of them is a student. Under Governor Quinn’s leadership, the Holocaust and Genocide Commission was created in July 2010. Members consist of Holocaust and other genocide survivors, liberators and other volunteers to share their knowledge and experiences in order to increase public awareness. The commission also holds events to memorialize the Holocaust and other genocides. The new law takes effect immediately.
“This law allows the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission to continue educating Illinois residents about crimes against humanity,” Senator Silverstein said. “We must never forget this tragedy. We must work together to prevent genocide from ever happening.”
“Today, Governor Quinn signs into law a bill that will protect the future of the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission,” Representative Feigenholtz said. “This legislation enables the Commission to keep promoting awareness and understanding of one of the darkest eras of human history.”
Illinois was the first state in the nation to mandate public elementary schools and high schools include a study of Holocaust history in its curriculum.
In 2011, Governor Quinn visited Israel to further develop ties between Illinois and Israel, and signed legislation requiring anyone convicted of a hate crime to enroll in an educational program discouraging hate crimes. In April 2013, the Governor proclaimed April 24 as Jan Karski Day to honor a hero of the Polish Underground during World War II who was lauded for risking his life to expose the horrors of the Holocaust to the world. Karski was later a professor at Georgetown University where a young Pat Quinn was among his students at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.