Meet the nation's first known Sikh woman to serve as a city mayor

Yuba City Mayor Preet Didbal, the first known Sikh woman in the nation to serve as a city mayor, wraps up her first city...

With a sharp crack of the gavel, Preet Didbal made history this month as the first known Sikh woman in the nation to preside as a city mayor.

In Northern California’s Yuba City, Didbal’s rise to mayor was celebrated as a long-awaited affirmation of the Sikh community’s contributions in California.

Yuba City’s annual Sikh parade attracts upward of 100,000 visitors every November to honor the teachings of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, who preached the religion’s main tenets: Selfless service to others and the belief in one god who sees all people as equal.

The religious minority has an estimated 500,000 followers in the U.S. and 25 million worldwide, and Didbal’s ascension comes as Sikhs have made political inroads nationwide. But those gains have been accompanied by heightened discrimination since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Followers have faced violent, sometimes deadly, attacks by people who mistake Sikhs for Muslims, especially men who wear a customary turban and unshorn beard.

A single mother of a college freshman and political independent who has been registered as a “no party preference” voter for her entire adult life, Didbal took a challenging path to becoming mayor of the city where... 

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