A documentary about a Sikh American who ran for Congress and won, in 1956

About the film

SAUND vs COCHRAN is a feature documentary in development about a time in our recent past when two candidates who couldn’t have been more different from each other– a wealthy aviatrix and a local farmer of Indian descent– ran for Congress. The highly entertaining drama that ensued engaged an 80% voter turnout, and Dalip Singh Saund (D) defeated Jackie Cochran Odlum (R) to become the first-ever Asian member of the U.S. Congress. He represented California’s 29th District for three consecutive terms.

“Seldom if ever has the American melting pot cooked up a spicier election dish than the contest now simmering in California’s 29th Congressional District.”


Share a Story

Share stories about 1956 America, connect us to people who knew Saund or Cochran or anyone who voted in 1956 (they’d be in their 80s today).


This is an independent media project currently in development.  100% tax-deductible contributions to this documentary film can be made through our fiscal sponsor, the Center for Independent Documentary.


In 2024, all 435 House seats are up for election and Americans will be voting for their next Congressperson. This is the perfect opportunity to highlight our diverse history with a story about a Sikh American who ran for Congress — and WON – almost 70 years ago.


This is a story of democracy in action. It is about the first Asian American, first Indian American, and first Sikh American elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. It is about a female aviation pioneer who broke barriers in the air and in the political arena.

Their dramatic competition captured national and international attention and engaged America in a conversation about political representation that has strong parallels to what women and people of color face today.

A nonpartisan perspective on this surprisingly overlooked story of political inclusion will highlight the intersection of varied considerations of ethnicity, gender, wealth and belonging as we consider how to vote in 2024.