See No Stranger: An Evening with Valarie Kaur
February 23, 2023
VALARIE KAUR is a renowned civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, innovator, and best-selling author of SEE NO STRANGER. She leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice. Valarie burst into American consciousness in the wake of the 2016 election when her Watch Night Service address went viral with 40 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.
Twenty years ago, when Valarie was a college student, a family friend was murdered in a hate crime a few days after 9/11. He was a turbaned Sikh man she called “Uncle,” killed by a man who called himself a patriot. Across the U.S., people of color were beaten, chased, shot, and stabbed in thousands of hate incidents that were barely reported in the media. Valarie took her camera and began a journey across America to tell her community’s story and fight for racial justice. That journey continues today.
Valarie 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 advocates at the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and justice. Valarie has been a regular TV commentator on MSNBC and contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, the Hill, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. Valarie earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School.
Valarie’s vision of “Revolutionary Love” is deeply rooted in her Sikh faith. She grew up on the farmlands of California, where her family has lived as Punjabi Sikh farmers for more than a century. As a child, whenever she felt lost, her grandfather would give her Sikh wisdom through song and point to the path of the sant-sipahi, sage-warrior. The sage loves; the warrior fights — it’s a path of revolutionary love.
Valarie’s debut book, SEE NO STRANGER: A Memoir & Manifesto of Revolutionary Love , was released in 2020 and expands on her “blockbuster” TED Talk.
One of the great pioneers of the interfaith movement in West Michigan was Rabbi Dr. Phillip Sigal. Aside from his duties at Ahavas Israel Synagogue, Dr. Sigal was instrumental in opening up the lines of communication among several religions in the area. After his untimely death in 1985, a group of local academics and interfaith enthusiasts established a memorial lecture fund in Rabbi Sigal's honor. In keeping with his legacy, the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, has brought to churches, schools and other lecture halls some of the most important voices in religion and social movements of the day.
Image credits: Shepard Fairey (American, 1970-), Rebirth (Valarie Kaur) , screen print, July 5, 2021
Valarie Kaur, filmmaker, civil rights activist and author, will discuss how "revolutionary love" can bridge divides at the next Talking Together event, Thursday, February 23, at the Eberhard Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.
February 16, 2023
Monthly we focus on Talking Together: Strengthening our Communities through Conversation, a dialogue initiative aimed at interrupting polarization and investing in the principles of civil discourse and respectful conversation. This morning from GVSU’s Kaufman Interfaith Institute we speak with Assistant Director Kyle Kooyers and Program Manager Zahabia Ahmed-Usmani. We discuss the upcoming, February 23rd event, See No Stranger: An Evening with Valerie Kaur. Talking Together is a partnership between the Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse, Kaufman Interfaith Institute, Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, and WGVU Public Media.