Rana Sodhi @sodhi7861 on the 21st anniversary of his brother’s murder.

On September 15, President Biden hosted the United We Stand summit at the White House to “counter the destructive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety, mobilize diverse sectors of society and communities across the country to these dangers, and put forward a shared, inclusive, bipartisan vision for a more united America.”

The White House honored 16 leaders who are healing the nation. I accepted this honor on behalf of us — as recognition for the movement for revolutionary love we are building together!

President Biden gave a national address and recognized these leaders as “Uniters” healing America. It was among the greatest honors of my life. AND my heart ached for the grief in that room.

The day was extraordinary. It was the first time a US President has brought survivors of white supremacist violence to the White House for a summit. I’ve often felt we’ve been toiling in the dark since 9/11, trying to wake America to how white supremacy was breaking our bones and ripping our country apart. But on this day, our pain was witnessed — and our work uplifted.

For you who have been touched by hate, may you see the love in these pictures and know you are not alone. #UnitedWeStand

Here is my heart-letter to you:
(Written the day of the Summit, on September 15th)

I feel honored and proud, and I feel sorrow too. Today, September 15th, was the day that Balbir Singh Sodhi was killed, the first person murdered in a hate crime after 9/11. Balbir Uncle’s murder made me an activist. I usually spend the anniversary alongside his brother Rana at the gas station where he was killed. Today Rana Ji and I will bring his memory with us to the White House, along with the hopes and dreams of our community.

21 years later, we still face an onslaught of violence and danger. But with one vital difference: I know that we are not alone. Because of you.

The ceremony takes place as part of the #UnitedWeStand Summit (live-streamed link here). We will hear from community leaders, scholars, advocates, and officials. We will ask the administration to dismantle dangerous programs such as Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) that have harmed our people for too long. We will stand with our partners such as the Sikh Coalition to champion policies to keep our people safe. Most of all, we will share our vision for how to shift culture and enlist support for our grassroots movement for building beloved community across America.

Today is also the day we lost four little girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan in 1963. In the name of all we lost, let this be a day we renew our vows to one another.

Two decades ago, we titled our film about Balbir Uncle’s murder DIVIDED WE FALL. Today, the highest seat of government in our land has decided to complete that declaration with the name of this summit: UNITED WE STAND. In reverse order. But perhaps that’s just right. The promise of America lies in our future.

I love you, family.