LOS ANGELES — The Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region (ANCA-WR) has announced that former Majority Leader of the California State Assembly and veteran attorney, Walter J. Karabian will be honored with the Legacy Award at its Annual Gala Banquet on October 25, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.
Born in Fresno, Karabian is the oldest son of John Karabian and Zevart Shishmanian. Karabian’s paternal family arrived in Fresno in 1896 from Bitlis, and his maternal family were from Dikranagert.
Karabian graduated from Roosevelt High School in Fresno and later continued his education at the University of Southern California (USC), where he earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in history, a master’s in public administration and a Juris Doctorate from the USC Law School.
After completing his education, Karabian served as Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County for two years. Soon after, Karabian became active in the Democratic Party and moved directly into politics. In 1966, he was elected to the California State Assembly. He was one of the youngest men to ever be elected to the Assembly and only the third American-Armenian to be elected to public office in the history of the United States.
While a member of the Legislature, Karabian published various legal articles and gained a reputation as a significant legal author as well as a Legislator. He made substantial contributions to the development of California law concerning crime, prison reform, education, civil rights, free speech and the preservation of endangered species in California. Notably, Karabian used his influence to bring awareness to the Armenian Genocide in California. In 1967, at a time when most people were not aware of the Genocide, Karabian authored the first resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide in the State Assembly.
In 1972, Karabian introduced California’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment which was designed to guarantee equal rights to women. Karabian also authored the first Freedom Act protecting sources of news information, the Endangered Species Act, which preceded the National Endangered Species Act and legislation requiring child IQ testing be completed in the child’s native language.