Valarie Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate, and interfaith organizer. She is the founding director of Groundswell, a non-profit initiative at Auburn Seminary that mobilizes people of faith in social action. She also serves as founding director of the Yale Visual Law Project, where she makes films and train students in the art of visual advocacy. For the last decade, Valarie has combined storytelling and advocacy to lead campaigns for racial dignity, religious pluralism, immigrant rights, prison reform, LGBTQ and gender equality. Her award-winningDivided We Fall with Sharat Raju (2008) earned national attention as the first feature documentary on post-9/11 racism and continues to inspire national grassroots dialogue. As a civil rights advocate, Valarie has clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee, traveled to Guantanamo to report on the military commissions, filed alandmark immigrant rights lawsuit with her clinic team in law school, and led ahigh-profile campaign against racial profiling with a coalition in East Haven, CT.
A prolific public speaker, Valarie has been invited to speak on her work in 200 U.S. cities and major media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC’s the Rachel Maddow Show,NPR, BBC, CBC and the New York Times. MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry has called her “one of the most exceptional speakers and thinkers” in a new generation of public intellectuals. She takes this as a compliment to outstanding co-conspirators in each of her projects.
Valarie earned bachelors degrees in religion and international relations at Stanford University where she was selected as Baccalaureate speaker for her class, a masters in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School as a Harvard Presidential Scholar, and a law degree at Yale Law School as a Knight Law and Media Scholar. Currently a fellow at Yale Law School, she directs the Yale Visual Law Project, where she makes documentary films and trains students. Recent films include Alienation (2011), which follows families swept up in immigration raids, Stigma (2011), which chronicles youth encounters with stop-and-frisks, and The Worst of the Worst: Portrait of a Supermax (2012), which explores the rise of supermax prisons and use of solitary confinement. She is currently working with Sharat Raju on a film about the Oak Creek tragedy.
Valarie’s essays appear in several books including My Neighbor’s Faith (2012),Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership (2011), and Civil Rights in Wartime (2010). She writes for CNN Opinion, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Salon, World Pulse Magazine, the New York Times and several journals, including Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts (2011), The National Institute of Military Justice’s Reports from Guantanamo Vol II (2010), and The Georgetown of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives (2010). She is Associate Editor of the 2011 volume in Dave Egger’s Voice of Witness series, Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice.
Valarie lives in New Haven with her filmmaking partner and husband Sharat Raju, where she loves to hike in the woods with their little dog Shadi, dance kathak and blues, and serve her friends exquisite chocolate. She believes the revolution must be joyful.
Join her on Facebook and Twitter @valariekaur. Our visit her website here