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SALDEF SALDEF: Sold-out Gala A Huge Success!


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Sold out Gala a Huge Success!

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SALDEF 2011 National Gala: Celebrating Fifteen Years

See Senator Durbin's video address

Senator {censored} Durbin at the SALDEF 15th Anniversary National Gala - YouTube

Last Saturday, October 8th, 2011 the Sikh American Legal Defense Education Fund (SALDEF) held its 15th Anniversary National Gala in Washington, D.C. Joined by over 400 guests, government officials, awardees and supporters from across the country, the sold-out event highlighted SALDEF's accomplishments over the past 15 years, and recognized those who have contributed to the Sikh American community’s progress and strengthened civil rights in the United States.

Opening remarks were delivered by Manjit Singh, Co-Founder and Chairman of SALDEF, welcoming the attendees and acknowledging the outpouring of support from the Sikh American community, coalition partners, and federal agencies in celebrating 15 years of SALDEF’s empowerment for the Sikh American community. This was followed by Kavneet Singh, SALDEF Managing Director and Board Member, who gave a glimpse at the history of the organization as well as highlighting the awardees. SALDEF Western Regional Director Bhupinder Kaur served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event.

The first award of the night, the Bhagat Singh Thind Community Empowerment Award recognized Rana Singh Sodhi for his ability to transcend the tragedy of his brother's death and utilize it as a catalyst for education, outreach, and understanding. Mr. Sodhi’s embodiment of chardi kala and commitment to the community serves as an exemplar for the entire Sikh American community.

Next, SALDEF recognized S. Floyd Mori with the Dorothy Height Coalition Building Award. Mr. Mori is currently the National Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and he reflected on the Japanese American experience after World War II internment, bringing parallels of the fear America faced then to the 9/11 attacks. Next, the Youth Leadership Award recognized Deep Singh, Co-Founder of the Jakara Movement, a youth oriented Sikh organization based in California aimed at connecting Sikh American youth to Sikh history and beliefs as well as social justice.

SALDEF's 2011 Public Service Award was awarded to former Secretary of Transportation, the Honorable Norman Mineta, who’s leadership in the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11 successfully directed all flights over United States airspace to land immediately and won widespread praise for restoring public confidence in the transportation system. Mr. Mineta also made conscious efforts to ensure that members of the Sikh, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities were not befallen with civil rights abuses while traveling.

The Dalip Singh Saund Legislative Leadership Award was accepted in absentia by Senator **** Durbin. In his remarks, delivered via video, Durbin emphasized the integral role that SALDEF played in the initial response to the hate crimes immediately following the 9/11 attacks, and ensuring hate crime legislation was put at the forefront of action to backlash within the South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh American communities. “In the weeks after 9/11 I was proud to work with SALDEF and the Sikh American community to pass legislation condemning prejudice and violence against [Sikhs] and any Americans. [By] working together we passed a Federal Hate Crimes Bill.,” said Senator Durbin. “ As long as Sikhs continue to face religious discrimination in the workplace, [and] Sikh children are continued to be bullied in school because of their faith, we still have work to do, and we must finish that work.”

Daya Singh Khalsa, President of Akal Security, served as a Guest Speaker for the evening and spoke about his experiences founding his company and how denial of job opportunities to Sikhs at the time, led he and his colleagues to found what is now one of the largest security organizations in the country. “Anything can come with a vision, being a Sikh should not prevent you in any way from accomplishing or inventing any ideas. Any vision or idea can become reality, a Sikh’s identity should not be a hindrance in any vision they have”, said Khalsa. SALDEF was also fortunate to have Satjiv Chahil, former Chief Marketing Officer at Apple Inc and HP, in attendance as he shared some inspirational anecdotes to the attendees regarding his experiences through his career, and the importance of chardi kala.

Jasjit Singh, SALDEF Associate Executive Director, presented the final comments, introducing the inaugural SikhLEAD program, and recognizing the 17 participants in attendance. He went on to express the need for our community to invest in our future youth and young professionals as we continue to grow as a community.

Entertainment for the evening included a memorable performance by Kiran Alhuwalia an award winning vocalist and composer, and a high-energy performance by the DC Bhangra Crew and Joshiley Jawan Bhangra Team.

Guests came together and donated to help SALDEF continue reaching out to communities, schools, houses of worship and civic leaders nationwide to raise awareness about Sikh Americans, speak out against bullying and protect the Sikh identity. If you weren’t able to join SALDEF at the National Gala, please join us today by making a tax-deductible donation.

SALDEF thanks the event sponsors for their generous support, as well as the local volunteers, whose dedicated work ensured the success of this event. We would also like to especially thank the staff and management of EventEQ for their masterful technical execution of our event, as well as support from InkSpill.


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