Sikh Coalition’s First Ever GOTV Fellowship!

On March 18, the Sikh Coalition announced our first ever Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Fellowship Program! This program is for high school juniors and above to gain the tools and guidance to increase their civic power by encouraging members of local communities to vote in the upcoming 2024 elections. During the six-month program, fellows will be given the opportunity to develop and implement strategies for voter engagement. We are specifically looking to recruit candidates from Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. In addition to speaking at gurdwaras to talk about voter registration, fellows will also research and disseminate information about voting; attend a monthly speaker series to learn from Sikh advocates across the country; and create individual projects to aid in voter education. Please spread the word, and apply here if you are eligible. The deadline for applications is April 22, 2024.

Updates on California bill AB2321

On March 19, California bill AB2321—introduced last month by Assemblymember Liz Ortega and developed in partnership with the Sikh Coalition and our legal allies—passed unanimously through its first policy committee. This bill was introduced on February 9, a year after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) rolled out an updated policy that forces bearded peace officers, including those who previously held religious or medical accommodations, to shave or face disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination. AB2321 would require CDCR to adhere to its obligation, under existing federal and state law, to provide employees with reasonable and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the employee’s individual needs. Click here to learn more about our work in this space.

Fateh! WA Lawmakers Pass Bills Featured in Sikh Coalition Advocacy Day

Earlier this month, two bills supported by the Sikh Coalition were passed in Washington state! SB 5427 calls for the creation of a hate crimes hotline, and SB 5917 allows the targeted defacement and vandalism of public property to be charged as a hate crime. These bills will boost public safety, create real resources for victims, and send a clear message that hate has no place in Washington.

In February, Sikh Coalition staff traveled to Washington to lead a civic engagement training to more than 25 Sikh advocates, most of them young students. The youth advocates immediately put their training to use at the state capital in Olympia, where they talked to state elected officials about these two bills and other issues of importance to the sangat. To learn more about our recent engagement in Washington, read here.

New Lesson Plan on Bhagat Singh Thind

On March 20, Sikh Coalition Senior Education Manager Savleen Singh presented “Unveiling Bhagat Singh Thind’s Journey,” a new lesson plan developed by the Sikh Coalition and Dr. Pritpal Kaur that explores the story of Bhagat Singh Thind, a Sikh immigrant and U.S. Army veteran who sued the U.S. government in an attempt to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Thind’s lawsuit led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1923 that had profound consequences on the U.S. immigration system for decades to come.

The lesson plan, which guides 11th grade students through the context and impact of Thind’s court case, was designed in accordance with not only California’s U.S. History and Geography standards, but also the state’s Ethnic Studies Principles and Values. Savleen presented this lesson plan, along with a broader session on Sikh awareness and the history of the Sikh community in California, to more than 20 social studies educators at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE); her session will be made available to other educators online moving forward. To learn more about this work, click here.

Transnational Repression and Farmers’ Protest Update

The Sikh Coalition continues to work on global issues that affect the Sikh community in the United States. On March 20, the Sikh Coalition submitted a statement for the record to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in advance of their hearing on Indian human rights issues, in which we urged Congress to pass the Transnational Repression Policy Act, permanently reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and protect Americans who are targeted for transnational repression but have not yet obtained citizenship.

The Sikh Coalition and the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association (NASMDA) also sent this letter to the State Department, USCIRF, and various international human rights organizations on March 4 regarding urgent concerns about attacks on medical workers trying to provide emergency care during the Farmers’ Protest in India.

Lastly, after months of advocacy by the Sikh Coalition, the FBI officially listed the November 2023 assassination plot against a Sikh American coordinated by an Indian government employee under “examples” of transnational repression on their webpage. As always, you can read more about our work to combat transnational repression on our website.

Sikh Coalition Visits a School in Queens!

On March 18, Sikh Coalition staff visited a school in Queens, New York, to meet with students from Kindergarten to the fifth grade. We read books by Supriya Kelkar, Simran Jeet Singh, and Raakhee Mirchandani, and also presented Sikh Awareness trainings to the fifth-graders. We hope to continue engaging with students in our effort towards inclusive and safe classrooms.