13 Moments that Shaped Sikh American History
In honor of the Sikh American community’s first-ever float in the Rose Parade [#sikhfloat, #roseparade, #inspiringstories]
1899–1917: Sikhs begin to migrate to California working as laborers and farmers; migration was severely curtailed by Immigration Act of 1917 (a.k.a. Asiatic Barred Zone Act). Legal migration from Asia ended with the National Origins Act of 1924.
September 4, 1907: A lynch mob of several hundred attack and rob the homes of Sikh millworkers in Bellingham, Washington.
October 24, 1912: The first Sikh American Gurdwara is founded in Stockton, California.
1913: The Ghadar party — an independence movement from British colonialism — was founded in Astoria, Oregon; California Alien Land Law of 1913 bars South Asians and other groups from owning property.
1920: Sikhs march in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade wearing green turbans and carrying signs that read: “300,000,000 of India with Ireland to the last” because “our cause is a common cause,” demanding unconditional independence for India and Ireland.
1923: In United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Thind — a U.S. Army veteran who sought naturalization — was “not white” and could not become a U.S. citizen. Asians were barred from citizenship until the Luce-Celler Act of 1946 is signed into law allowing Indians to naturalize and become citizens.
January 3, 1957: Dalip Singh Saund from San Joaquin, California (C.A.’s 29th Congressional District) becomes the first Sikh American and APIA elected (in 1956) to the U.S. Congress.
1965: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 lifts restrictions and exclusions, allowing Asians to immigrate more freely to the U.S.
1981: Sikhs are barred from serving with their articles of faith in the U.S. Military — despite the extensive participation of Sikhs in both World Wars — ending a long-standing religious accommodation. As of today, three Sikh American soldiers have been given exemptions to serve with their articles of faith.
September 15, 2001: Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh American gas station owner, was shot five times and killed, becoming the first American to lose their life as a result of a hate crime after September 11th.
October 2008: Jaspreet Kaur Saini becomes the first Sikh American female lawyer in the Armed Services (Navy JAG).
May 2012: Washington, D.C. becomes the first major city in the U.S. to allow Sikh American police officers to serve with their articles of faith.
August 5, 2012: A white supremacist gunman, Wade Michael Page, attacked a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six Sikh American members, and injuring four others, in the deadliest attack on a place of worship since the Jim Crow Era.
To learn more about the Rose Parade #sikhfloat visit: www.unitedsikhmission.org or www.saldef.org/roseparade2015
13 Moments that Shaped Sikh American History was compiled by a team of SALDEF researchers and reviewed primarily by Dr. Jaideep Singh. Thanks for your continued support: www.saldef.org/donate.