Speed Reads

coming together

California Sikh community raises money to keep city's fireworks show alive

Due to a lack of funds, the city of Visalia, California, was close to having to cancel its annual fireworks show, but as soon as the mayor told Amritpal Singh about this dilemma, the local businessman saved the Fourth of July.

Singh and the rest of the city's Sikh community rallied together and raised $10,000 for the event, which is also a benefit for a children's charity. "Visalia considers this to be very generous and helpful," Mayor Warren Gubler told NBC News. "We appreciate their show of patriotic support, as one of our newer groups of American citizens."

In January 2015, a survey found that 6 out of 10 Americans knew "nothing at all" about Sikhism, and a mere 11 percent personally know someone who is Sikh. There are about 500,000 Sikhs living in the United States, and it is the fifth-largest religion in the world, but because it is under the radar in the U.S., a nationwide education campaign was recently launched to educate people about their Sikh neighbors. Bill Singh Nijjer, a Sikh from Fresno, California, said that while Sikhs have lived in central California for more than 100 years, "we haven't done any outreach. That is probably the reason we were targeted and misidentified."

A majority of Sikhs wear turbans, and that makes some people think they are Muslims (even though most Muslims don't wear turbans), and some say that has led to acts of violence against Sikhs. "Everyone I know has experienced discrimination," Gagan Kaur of Fresno told NBC News. "I hope that one day this [campaign] will allow our children to not have to go through what we went through."