HARI SINGH EVEREST’S JOURNEY: IN HIS OWN WORDS
"I was a 'British subject' by subjugation, an Indian by birth, a Pakistani by circumstance, and an American by choice.”
Professor Hari Singh Everest (January 16, 1916 - August 18, 2011) was a writer, journalist, teacher, and community leader. This archive contains a wealth of material about his life in his own words based on his voluminous writings, interviews, photographs and other documents. He was fluent in five languages: English, Gurmukhi, Persian, Hindi and Urdu. His message championing social justice is still inspirational and relevant today.
Professor Hari Singh Everest was born on January 16, 1916 in Lyallpur, Punjab in British India (now Faisalabad in Pakistan). His family was uprooted by the partition of India in 1947 — the largest human migration in history — in which 14 million people crossed the newly created border between India and Pakistan. He became, in his words, “a stateless refugee person” like millions of Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus.
By the age of 38, he was already an accomplished scholar and journalist. He held two university degrees. In Shimla, he worked for the government to help Muslim families in the Indian Punjab safely relocate to Pakistan in the years after partition.
On a quota from Pakistan, he left the Punjab for America in 1954 to attend Stanford University’s Master’s program in Communications (1956-57). Even with a Stanford degree, he found it difficult to advance professionally due to his appearance as a turbaned Sikh.
In 1961, he became the first South Asian to teach in the Yuba-Sutter school system, teaching for 20 years until his retirement in 1981. He was a resident of Yuba City for 50 years. His volunteer work included the California Department of Education Ethnic Advisory Council, PG&E consumer Advisory Panel, Sutter County Juvenile Justice Commission in which he earned 'The Rodger Kunde' Youth Leader of the Year Award for Outstanding Service to Youth 1990 and the Policy Council.
A prolific and persuasive writer, his articles and letters appeared frequently in the local press in Yuba City, as well as in national publications, in Canada, and in India. He also published poetry in which he adopted the pen name "Everest."
During these years, he became a respected community leader in the rapidly growing Punjabi Sikh community in Yuba City. He was an integral figure in the building of the first Sikh temple in Yuba City, and was the first stage secretary, serving as a spokesman and community representative for the Tierra Buena Gurdwara. He was the President of United Sikhs for Human Rights. He was the US representative for the Sikh Review and served as editor of the Sikh Sansar magazine.
Well into his retirement, he remained a voice for compassion and cross-cultural understanding, and an effective spokesman for the Tierra Buena Gurdwara around which he centered much of his life. His life was predicated along three simple rules he made for himself that he called "3FO" (faith, family and fellowship).
After twelve years of separation, his family joined him in the US in 1967. He wed Amar Kaur (March 10, 1924 - February 2, 2008) on June 7, 1938, and they were married for 70 years. He is survived by his son Paramjit Singh and daughter-in-law Surinder Kaur, daughter Manjit Kaur and son-in-law Harbhajan Singh, grandsons Jatinder Singh, Harpreet Singh and Harmantej Singh, and grand-daughters Prabhjot Kaur, Tejinder Kaur, Amarpreet Kaur and Harkiren Kaur.
He passed away in Yuba City on August 18, 2011.
All of the Hari Singh Everest materials are courtesy of the Everest family.