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
VALARIE KAUR is a seasoned civil rights activist and celebrated prophetic voice “at the forefront of progressive change” (Center for American Progress). Valarie burst into American consciousness in the wake of the 2016 election when her Watch Night Service address went viral with 30+ million views worldwide. Her question “Is this the darkness of the tomb – or the darkness of the womb?” reframed the political moment and became a mantra for people fighting for change. Valarie now leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice in America. As a lawyer, filmmaker, and innovator, she has won policy change on multiple fronts – hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, Internet freedom, and more. She founded Groundswell Movement, Faithful Internet, and the Yale Visual Law Project to inspire and equip new generations of advocates. Valarie has been a regular TV commentator on MSNBC and contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, the Hill, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. A daughter of Sikh farmers in California’s heartland, Valarie earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School. Valarie’s new book, SEE NO STRANGER: A Memoir & Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, expands on her “blockbuster” TED Talk and hits the shelves in June 2020. Click for more.
``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
- Keynote Speaker at the White House and Pentagon under the Obama administration, the United Nations, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and on more than 300 U.S. college campuses.
- Opinion contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, The Huffington Post, The Hill, and the Washington Post.
- Regular television commentator on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show (2012-14)
- Keynote speaker with the U.S. State Department in Burma, aiding the country’s transition from dictatorship into democracy
- Co-creator and keynote speaker of the 2016 Together Tour.
- Delivered commencement addresses, including the Stanford University Baccalaureate address for the Class of 2013.
- MLK Award from Florida International University (2018)
- Harvard Divinity School’s Peter J. Gomes Memorial Honors, the school’s alumni award (2016)
- Honored as a “Young Global Leader” by World Economic Forum (2015)
- American Courage Award Recipient by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (2013)
- “Person of the Year” for Leadership & Service by India Abroad (2013)
- Community Service Award by the South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut (2012)
- Commendations by the City of Clovis and the State of California Commendation by the State of California for excellence in leadership and public service (2006)
- Recipient of Stanford University’s Golden Medal in the Humanities (2003)
- Featured in Verve’s Power Moment 2017 for propagating the message of Revolutionary Love in a time of hate
- Featured in VICE’s “You Know Who Rules?” series on the women leaders of 2017
- Featured as one of the “Women Who Won Net Neutrality” in Slate (2015)
- Named among 13 progressive faith leaders to watch by the Center for American Progress (2013)
- Named one of eight Asian American “Women of Influence” by Audrey Magazine (2013)
- Selected as an American Swiss Young Leader, one of twenty-five by American Swiss Foundation (2012)
- Named a Visionary Leader by World Pulse Magazine (2011)
- Leadership Award, Sikh American Chamber of Commerce (2012)
- Youth Leadership Award, Sikh American Legal & Education Defense Fund (2013)
- 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)