Valarie Kaur

Valarie Kaur: Civil rights activist, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, author, & Sikh American Voice

The Center for American Progress names
Kaur “a standout figure in the world of interfaith organizing and activism.” Her new venture, the Revolutionary Love Project, champions the ethic of love in an era
of rage.

About Valarie

Valarie Kaur is a seasoned civil rights activist, award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, faith leader, and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. She was born and raised in Clovis, California, where her family settled as Sikh farmers in 1913. When a family friend was the first person killed in a hate crime after September 11, 2001, she began to document hate crimes against Sikh and Muslim Americans, which resulted in the award-winning film Divided We Fall. Since then, she has made films and led story-based campaigns on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, marriage equality, and Internet freedom. She is the founder of Groundswell Movement, considered “America’s largest multifaith online organizing network,” recognized for “dynamically strengthening faith-based organizing in the 21st century.” She also founded the Yale Visual Law Project, where she trained law students how to make films for social change, and co-founded Faithful Internet to build the movement for net neutrality. Recognized as a leading Sikh American voice, she has been a Senior Fellow at Auburn Theological Seminary since 2013.

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 public ethic and wellspring for social action.

Valarie earned undergraduate degrees in Religious Studies and International Relations at Stanford University, a master’s in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School, where she was a Harvard University Presidential Scholar, and a J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was a Knight Law and Media Scholar. She has worked on complex civil rights cases, clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee and served as a legal observer at Guantanamo Bay. She was a faculty member of the Stanford Philosophy Institute, teaching high school students religion and philosophy. Valarie was recognized as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. She has an honorary doctorate from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is a member of the California Bar.

``a standout figure in the world of interfaith organizing and activism`` The Center for American Progress

  • Divided We Fall (2008) – Valarie’s first film 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. In 2016, Kaur and Raju created Seva Productions to support entertainment and social justice projects.
  • 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
  • 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.

Television, Print & Stage

Awards

Distinctions

Honors

  • Youth Leadership Award, Sikh American Legal & Education Defense Fund (2013)
  • Leadership Award, Sikh American Chamber of Commerce (2012)
  • Mai Bhago Spirit of Vaisakhi Award for Outstanding Service, Sikh Dharma International (2008)
  • Community Service Seva Award, Centennial Foundation (2007)
  • Sikh American Heritage Award, Sikh Council on Religion and Education (2007)
  • Leadership and Scholarship “Miri-Piri” Award, Sikh Center of Orange County (2007)
  • Service Award, Punjabi American Festival (2007)

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