Ethiopians in Colorado
Fasting-growing immigrant group in the U.S. has had a large presence in Colorado since the 1970s
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This story is told in a few paragraphs, a motion graphic, an audio story and an exhaustive timeline. Enjoy.
Colorado is home to a large population of Ethiopian immigrants. Nearly 30,000 live in the Denver Metro area alone. Their culture, although often overlooked in Colorado, has shaped and influenced the state in many ways.
The Ethiopian migration to Colorado is not an isolated incident. Ethiopians immigrate to the U.S. more frequently than any other country in the world, according to the 2015 UN Stock Migrant Report. In 1980, only 7,516 Ethiopians lived in the entire U.S. That number has grown by more than 2,000 percent in the past three decades.
The animation below details the influx of Africans and Ethiopians to the U.S. and some of the impact that has had on Denver’s community.
Zewge Gebre-Marim and his wife, Edda, moved from Ethiopia in the 1970s and came to Colorado after their two sons attended the University of Colorado Boulder. Zewge and Edda recalled their time in Ethiopia with fondness, but also fear.
Zewge started the nonprofit organization PRIDE, which builds latrines, school buildings and provides desks and other educational material to rural parts of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government paid for all of his education (up to his master’s degree), and he said this is his way of giving back and still remaining a part of his home country.
Listen to this audio piece to hear Zewge and Edda’s story.
Zewge explained that the younger generations don’t understand Ethiopian history and that understanding the history is the most important part of connecting with Ethiopian culture.
“Ethiopia is the poorest of the poor, you have to understand that,” Zewge said. Without understanding how Ethiopia became so poor, people won’t understand Ethiopians in the U.S., he said.
This timeline shows the Ethiopian struggle for independence and the natural disasters that left the country in constant war and upheaval.