Middle Schoolers taking action on (Sikh) civil rights

May 12, 2010

Last Friday, I was invited by the organization Teaching Matters to participate as an “expert” community activist in their annual Civil Rights Student Summit in downtown Manhattan.  I was looking forward to the opportunity to work with such young students of diverse backgrounds on building effective campaigns for civil rights and social justice, but I had no idea how inspiring the experience would be.

The day began at the City Council Chambers at City Hall, where a few hundred students were welcomed by staff at Teaching Matters and a speech by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who gave the Sikh Coalition a shout out for our organizing and advocacy work on bias-based bullying in NYC schools.

Then the students broke out into groups of a few dozen across the street at Pace University and made 5-7 minute presentations on a civil rights topic they had researched and developed a campaign about.  The “professional” activists in the room then had the opportunity to ask questions, give the students feedback on their campaigns, and share our on-the-ground experience.  With topics ranging from healthcare for all to women’s rights, the presentations were thoughtful and used many forms of media to build awareness campaigns.

What really blew me away was that one of the groups of five non-Sikh middle school students chose Sikh rights as their topic!  Using a great website they created, the students gave an in-depth presentation about the barriers to freedom and equality Sikhs in the U.S. face, from employment discrimination to hate crimes.  The front page of the site states:

Read the rest of this entry »


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!


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 »


Sick and tired of being sick and tired

October 6, 2009

Today is the 92nd birthday of the late Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the great leaders of the African American civil rights and freedom movement in the United States. Many of the rights we benefit from today are a direct result of the tireless work of this inspiring activist and freedom fighter and others like her. Here is a short video for you to honor her work and her life. Happy Birthday Fannie Lou Hamer!


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.


Coalition Gala: Paving the Way

August 13, 2009

On Saturday August 8th, the Sikh coalition held it’s first-ever gala. The glamorous night was held in Gotham Hall. Music, comedy and awards helped to celebrate the Sikh community’s forward progress. The night also showcased the Sikh Coalition’s work to end discrimination against Sikhs and the Sikh identity.

Corporate, nonprofit and government leaders attended to honor community activists, sewadars and Sikh supporters for their work over the last year.  View the slideshow below for some insight to the nights events. More to come!


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