Valarie Kaur: Civil rights activist, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, author, & Sikh American justice leader
The Center for American Progress names
Kaur “a standout figure in the world of interfaith organizing and activism” and Melissa Harris-Perry calls Kaur “one of the most compelling young voices in America today.”
Her new venture, the Revolutionary Love Project,
champions the ethic of love in an era of rage.
Valarie Kaur is a social justice activist who leads campaigns for civil and human rights. Kaur was born and raised in California´s Central Valley where her family settled as Sikh farmers a century ago. When a Sikh family friend was the first person murdered in a hate crime after 9/11, she made her first film on hate violence in America. Since then, her story-based advocacy has helped win policy change on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, marriage equality, and Internet freedom. In order to equip a new generation of advocates, she founded Groundswell Movement, America’s largest multi faith online organizing community of 300,000 known for “dynamically strengthening faith-based organizing in the 21st century.” She also founded the Yale Visual Law Project and co-founded Faithful Internet. During her work, whether inside supermax prisons, on the military base at Guantanamo, or at sites of mass shootings, she identified a surprising key element for social change: the ethic of love. Today she leads the Revolutionary Love Project to champion love as a wellspring for social action. Kaur earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School. She is a member of the California Bar. She lives in Los Angeles with her film partner and husband Sharat Raju and son Kavi. She believes: “The way we make change is just as important as the change we make.”
``a standout figure in the world of interfaith organizing and activism``
Kaur’s first film Divided We Fall (2008) with director Sharat Raju toured in 200 U.S. cities, won a dozen international awards, and became known as the go-to documentary on post-9/11 hate crimes. The Divided We Fall Campaign inspired dialogues on 100+ campuses and communities in the 2008 and 2016 election seasons. Alienation (2011), a short film, follows families swept up in immigration raids; Stigma (2011), a short film, chronicles youth encounters with stop-and-frisks; The Worst of the Worst: Portrait of a Supermax (2012), a documentary on the practice of solitary confinement, helped win policy change in Connecticut and is now used by activists around the country; and Oak Creek: In Memorium (2012), a viral short film on the 2012 mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, helped the Sikh community win historic federal policy change on hate crimes. In 2016, Kaur and Raju created Seva Productions to support entertainment and social justice projects.
Television, Print & Stage
Kaur has been a regular television commentator on MSNBC and opinion contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Hill and The New York Times. She has addressed audiences at the White House, Pentagon, the United Nations, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and on more than 250 U.S. college campuses. She has also traveled with the U.S. State Department as a keynote speaker throughout Burma, aiding its transition from dictatorship into democracy. In 2016, she became a co-creator and keynote speaker of the Together Tour in 6 U.S. cities.
The Center for American Progress names Kaur “a standout figure in the world of interfaith organizing and activism” and among 13 progressive faith leaders to watch. Melissa Harris-Perry calls Kaur “one of the most compelling young voices in America today.” The State of California has recognized her work, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice awarded her the American Courage Award. In 2013, Kaur was named “Person of the Year”by India Abroad and one of eight Asian American “Women of Influence” by Audrey Magazine. In 2015, Kaur was named among the “Women Who Won Net Neutrality” in Slate and was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. In 2016, she became the youngest person to receive an alumni award from Harvard Divinity School.