Student Handout 1 – Hari Singh Everest: An American by Choice (Page 1 of 2)

Background:  Hari Singh Everest was a writer and educator who migrated from India to the United States in 1955, settling in California, working first as a farm laborer to earn money to pay for his graduateEverest in Front of a House, November 1959 school tuition at Stanford University.  Everest graduated with a Masters’ Degree in Communications from Stanford in 1957.  He found it difficult to secure a university faculty position or work as a journalist in the US, despite his higher education degrees and other qualifications, because of his traditional Sikh appearance.

Everest practiced Sikhism, a religion founded in 1469 in South Asia by Guru Nanak, a social reformer who challenged the authority of the Brahmins and the caste order. Guru Nanak taught that all human beings are equal and can realize the divine within them without any human intermediaries or priests. Sikhs believe that each individual can realize the divine on his or her own through devotion to God, truthful living, and service to humanity. The three basic principles of Sikhism are honest living, sharing with the needy, and praying to one God

In 1961, Everest secured a teaching position in Yuba City, California, at Tierra Buena Elementary School, where he stayed for the next 20 years.  A prolific writer, Everest’s articles and letters appeared frequently in the local press.  He also served as a community leader in Yuba City, serving as a spokesman and community representative for the Tierra Buena Gurdwara (the Sikh place of worship).

The story of Hari Singh Everest provides important insights into the lives of immigrants to the United States and the challenges faced by ethnic and religious minorities in the US in the 20th Century.  Everest faced prejudice about his distinctive appearance that limited his ability to achieve many of his professional goals. His perseverance and work ethic, dedication to the ideals outlined in the US Constitution, and commitment both to his community and his adopted country serve as an important reminder of both the challenges faced and opportunities presented to immigrants to the United States in the late 20th Century.