Valarie Kaur to deliver Elon’s Baccalaureate 2021 address

Kaur is a civil rights activist, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, interfaith leader and author whose new venture, the Revolutionary Love Project, champions the ethic of love.

Valarie Kaur, a seasoned civil rights activist, award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, interfaith leader and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, will deliver Elon University’s baccalaureate remarks on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

Baccalaureate will be held at 3 p.m. Details about the ceremony are still being determined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be shared later along with other Commencement 2021 information at www.elon.edu/commencement.

Recognized as a leading Sikh American voice, Kaur has been a senior fellow at Auburn Theological Seminary since 2013. She is a native of California, where her family settled as Sikh farmers in 1913. Kaur began documenting hate crimes against Sikh and Muslim Americans after a family friend became the first person killed in a hate crime after the Sept. 11 attacks. That effort would lead her to work with director Sharat Raju to create the award-winning film “Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath.”

Kaur is an interfaith leader and the founder of Groundswell Movement, an online community of people who believe faith can be a force for good in the world. She also founded the Yale Visual Law Project, where she trained law students how to make films for social change, and co-founded Faithful Internet to build the movement for net neutrality.

Today she leads the Revolutionary Love Project, which produces stories, tools, curricula, conferences, films, TV moments and mass mobilizations that equip and inspire people to practice the ethic of love. Current projects by the initiative based at the University of Southern California focus on racism, nationalism, and hate against Sikh, Muslim, Arab and South Asian American communities.

Her newest book, “See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love,” was released in June 2020 by One World, a Random House imprint.

Kaur earned undergraduate degrees in religious studies and international relations at Stanford University, a master’s in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School and a law degree at Yale Law School. She has worked on complex civil rights cases, clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee and served as a legal observer at Guantanamo Bay. She was a faculty member at the Stanford Philosophy Institute, where she taught high school students religion and philosophy, and was recognized as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum.

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Baccalaureate is a multifaith ceremony held during Commencement week. Derived from Latin, “baccalaureate” means to recognize and honor achievement and distinction. As opposed to a sermon for graduating seniors, Elon’s baccalaureate service is celebratory and inspirational, with seniors’ reflections on their time at Elon, a renowned speaker inspiring and challenging without necessarily preaching, and readings and blessings from across a variety of religious and cultural traditions.

Commencement 2021

Planning is still underway for Commencement 2021 as the university evaluates the various health and safety considerations as well as local and state regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for Commencement 2021 as well as plans for an in-person celebration of the Class of 2020 will be announced by Friday, March 26. Details about the options being considered for both classes are available here.

Information about Elon’s Commencement week activities will be posted to www.elon.edu/commencement once events and programs are finalized.