India-born American Sikh Gurinder Singh Khalsa was given the prestigious Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award. He was among 16 Hoosiers who were presented the Champions of Diversity Awards at a function organized by Indiana Minority Business Magazine at Hyatt Regency Hotel recently.
Originally hailing from Ambala (Haryana), Gurinder Singh Khalsa is founder and chairman of SikhsPAC and SikhsMEDIA. He was presented the Distinguished 2019 Champions of Diversity -Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award by State Representative of Indiana Robin Schackleford and Robert Shegog, vice president and chief operating officer at the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper and Indiana Minority Business Magazine.
A large number of Sikh community members from Indiana attended the function. Gurinder Singh is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and leader in the Sikh community in Indiana.
Other Hoosiers who received the IMBM Champions of Diversity 2019 awards were Indiana Market Manager for Community Development Banking at PNC, Patricia Gamble-Moore; CEO and President of Wernle Youth and Family Treatment Center in Richmond, Darrell R. Gordon; CEO of Edna Martin Christian Center and EMCC Holdings, Tysha Hardy-Sellers; first female partner at the 137-year-old Church, Hittle and Antrim Law Firm, Leslie Craig Henderzahs; Regional Vice President, Central Region for Meijer, Maureen Mitchell; owner of Oatts Trucking and Nubian Construction Group, Nathan and Deborah Oatts; Chief of Police for Indianapolis Department (IMPD) Bryan Roach; vice-president for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, Dean of the University Graduate School and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership at Indiana University, James C. Wimbush; CEO of Eskenazi Medical Group and Associate Director of the Indiana University School of Medical Residency Training Program, Curtis Wright; Director of Engagement and Economic Empowerment for South Bend, Alkeyna Aldridge; Founder of Unite Indy, which connects volunteers and experts to assist urban churches, ministries and other charities, Jim and Nancy Cotterill; first female President of Ivy Tech Community College, Sue Ellspermann; and president and CEO of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, 2010, Vanessa Allen-McCloud.
Speaking on the occasion, Gurinder Singh Khalsa said, “I am very thankful to Indiana Minority Business Magazine, especially my good friend, Jose Lusende, who I proudly call my brother. I would also like to thank my family and my friends for joining me this evening. Today, I am humbled and honored to be the recipient of the 2019 Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award. For the last 25 years I have been enjoying the American dream as a small business owner while practicing my faith. I am a proud American and I am an American by choice. The question I get the most when meeting new people is about my turban and what it stands for.
“Turban is a beacon of hope, safety and security for others and I wear it proudly with dignity and respect to the God.”
He recalled that in 2007 he was denied from boarding his flight at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport because he refused to removed his turban.
“I took this stand for all those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of faith. Tonight, this award is not about me. Change does not exist without the support of a community. I dedicate this award to more than 67,000 individuals from all walks of life across America, and to one of the largest Sikh advocacy group, Sikh Coalition. Without their countless efforts, change in the TSA Turban policy would not exist,” said Gurinder Singh Khalsa.
“Now, guess what! A very young and talented lady, Jenna Ruiz, was inspired by my story and based on this true incident, wrote and directed the short film, SINGH. Please enjoy our trailer and thank you for this great honor and evening,” concluded Khalsa.
IMBM, a sister publication of the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper, recognizes the valuable contributions of those who bring diverse values, backgrounds and abilities for the benefit of consumers and employers.