FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Rev. Jackson to Speak at Ceremonies in Poland Marking European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day
Sometimes called the “Forgotten Holocaust,” up to 500,000 Sinti and Roma – classified and persecuted as “Gypsies” – were massacred by the Nazis during World War II.
More than 4,000 men, women and children were slaughtered on a single day in the so-called “Gypsy family camp” at the Nazi’s Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland. All told, roughly 20,000 Sinti and Roma perished there.
On Aug. 2, 2019 – the 75th anniversary of the mass murder at the “Gypsy family camp” – international human rights icon and activist, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., will travel to Auschwitz-Birkenau as the guest of honor at ceremonies marking European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day. He will deliver a keynote address at the memorial site about resisting the “ugly head of racism, nationalism and neo-Nazism” that “is rearing up again in the U.S. and Europe.”
“Just as we remember and continue the fight for civil rights in the United States, so too will we keep the fight for dignity and justice for the Sinti and Roma people close to our hearts,” Rev. Jackson said. “We’ve seen the face of evil through the Holocaust of the Jews, Sinti and Roma. The power and pain of this immoral and inhumane act must give way to an eternal resurrection of hope. The battle for the soul of humanity must never be surrendered.”
Rev. Jackson will spend July 31 – Aug. 4 in Poland as a special guest of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and the Association of Roma in Poland. He will attend and speak at several commemoration events, including a concert on August 1 by the Roma and Sinti Philharmonic Orchestra, performing the “Requiem for Auschwitz.’’ He will also deliver remarks during a panel discussion and meet with elderly Holocaust survivors and young Sinti and Roma civil rights activists.
Rev. Jackson last visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, preserved as a haunting memorial and museum, in 2015. “Our tears will never stop flowing,” he said.
The scourges of anti-Semitism and antigypsyism are on the rise in Europe as the Far Right gets bolder and stronger on the streets and in the halls of government. Discrimination and hate crime attacks against Sinti and Roma are increasing.
In marking last year’s day of remembrance, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum said it was “deeply concerned about the escalating persecution and violence directed at Roma in several parts of Europe today.”
“Roma,” the museum said in a statement, “face intensifying persecution and violence, at times in a climate of intimidation generated by incendiary hate speech and genocide denial of public officials.”
In June of this year, Pope Francis traveled to Romania and, according to The New York Times, apologized to the Roma people, saying his heart was “weighed down by the many experiences of discrimination, segregation and mistreatment” they have experienced.
“Let’s learn from history,” the Pope said. “Let’s not fall in the same hole.”
Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.