Beyond a lifetime, still inspiring

August 16, 2010

~ By Sally Hartman, Sikh Coalition Legal Fellow

As my legal internship with the Sikh Coalition comes to a close, I have begun to reflect on my experience over the course of the past three months.  I feel fortunate that my time with the Coalition has been characterized by a unique blend of a legal and cultural education.  By getting to know the Coalition staff and hearing stories of victories in the community, I have come to realize the extent to which their lives truly embody the spirit of heartfelt advocacy.

Air Marshal Dr. Puran Singh Bajwa

I am mindful that none of this would have been possible without the generous support of the family of Dr. Puran Singh Bajwa.  Through honoring the memory of Dr. Bajwa, they have opened the door for countless other future attorneys to explore the rewarding and uplifting field of Civil Rights law.  This opportunity is consistent with the essence of Dr. Bajwa’s life.

As an Air Marshal in the Indian Army, Dr. Bajwa was noted throughout his career for his dignity and his proud practice of the Sikh faith, serving as an inspiration to many generations of military personnel who followed him. In his retirement, the advanced study and practice of Sikhism and teaching it to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was Dr. Bajwa’s chief pursuit in life. As a physician, highly decorated military officer, and community leader, Dr. Bajwa literally touched and made a lasting impact on tens of thousands of lives.

I am hopeful that my work this summer has, in some small way, been able to mimic the incredible dedication that characterized Dr. Bajwa’s life.  I have been honored to work alongside our staff attorneys to educate both the government and private-sector employers as to the Civil Rights of Sikh men and woman who are being discriminated against.  By familiarizing myself with the relevant legal context, honing my research skills, and drafting advocacy letters, I truly feel that I have taken a step forward in a promising direction.  I hope to continue this journey as I go forward in my education, and make Civil Rights Law a central part of my future practice.

Thank you once again to the family of Dr. Bajwa.  In helping make possible my experience this summer, you have honored his memory, established a meaningful opportunity for future lawyers, and bestowed a wonderful gift on the Sikh community.


First Sikh Army Grad in Over Two Decades, Photos

March 30, 2010

Check out photos from Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan’s graduation at Ft. Houston in San Antonio. Click here.

Though the Army’s policy of not allowing Sikhs to serve with their articles of faith intact remains in place, Sikhs can celebrate that Captain Rattan’s accommodation and successful completion of basic training proves Sikhs do not have to sacrifice their religion to serve effectively in the U.S. Army.


All Out for Immigration Reform – March for America

March 10, 2010

On March 21st, hundreds of thousands will gather in Washington, DC for the March for America, demanding “immigration reform for new American families and economic justice for all American families.”  You can see earlier posts on the importance of immigration reform for the Sikh community here and here.  In the spirit of Sikh activism and sarbat da bhala, we encourage community members to join the march in Washington on the 21st.

The March for America’s website states:

Today we are at a pivotal moment in the history of this nation. We are faced with a choice. We can do nothing, and watch as our families and communities continue to be torn apart by the broken immigration system; watch as profiteers continue to take advantage of people desperate for work; watch as due process is taken away from our understanding of justice; and watch as our leaders work on economic solutions that simply aren’t bold enough to turn this country around. Or we can stand up for our families and our communities. Join thousands from across the country at the March For America in Washington DC on March 21st. It is up to us.

Please click here for more information about the march, including transportation.  Buses will be making one-day trips from New York City and other East Coast cities.  Contact sonny@sikhcoalition.org if you want to get on a bus in New York.

See you in DC!


Congress introduces immigration reform bill

December 16, 2009

This week, Representative Luis Gutierrez introduced a bill entitled “CIR A.S.A.P.” which lays out many real solutions that would get us closer to comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). As previously discussed, The Sikh Coalition fully supports comprehensive immigration reform. This issue is of great importance to Punjabi Sikh immigrants in the United States and is in line with the Sikhi principle of sarbat da bhala.

Click here to tell Congress you support comprehensive immigration reform, and see the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s press release about the new bill below.

Read the rest of this entry »


End Racial Profiling Act

December 8, 2009

For the past 8 years, Congress has been trying to pass the End Racial Profiling Act, a law that would bar certain law enforcement agencies from using racial profiling as a tool to search for suspects. The Sikh Coalition is supporting this bill because of the impact that racial profiling can and is having on a minority as visible as Sikhs. The Baltimore Sun yesterday published the following op-ed on the topic, which provides a few great stories as reference points for why racial profiling is an ineffective policing method. Take a look: Read the rest of this entry »


Bringing it Home, Out of the Shadows

August 26, 2009

Yesterday afternoon I joined several faith leaders from diverse communities for a meeting with Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) in his district office in Kew Gardens, Queens to discuss immigration reform. The Sikh Coalition is a part of growing group of organizations around the country bringing a faith-based voice to the immigration debate, and in particular has been active in the New York Interfaith Network on Immigration Reform.

In the meeting with Congressman Weiner, we discussed what it’s going to take to realistically fix this broken immigration system that has deemed the lives of 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country worthless. 12 million people living in the shadows, at risk of being torn apart from their families and loved ones at any moment. This is a statistic we hear a lot, but as Sikhs, what does it really mean to us? How does it hit home? What is our responsibility as Guru-oriented people?

Yesterday it hit home for me.

Read the rest of this entry »


New Video: From the Classroom to the Capitol

August 24, 2009

Filmmaker Kevin Lee just finished a new short documentary film entitled From the Classroom to the Capitol: The Sikh Coalition. The film was screened for the first time on August 8, 2009 at the Sikh Coalition’s first ever gala in New York City.

Kevin Lee is a an award-winning, New York-based filmmaker who also directed the films Warrior Saints and Dastaar: Defending Sikh Identity. This new documentary, From the Classroom to the Capitol, includes interviews with community members who have experienced discrimination or hate violence as well as Sikh Coalition staff members and interns who provide a behind the scenes glimpse at the Sikh Civil Rights movement in the United States.

We are grateful for Kevin’s commitment to documenting these stories which are so important to Sikhs in the U.S. and around the world.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.