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8th Annual Little Ethiopia Cultural Street Fair

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Date & Time:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Justine Ketola (323)251-0542
Justine.ketola@sbcglobal.net


ANNUAL CULTURAL STREET FESTIVAL IN
LITTLE ETHIOPIA
September 13, 2009

(August 17, 2009 --Los Angeles, CA) Little Ethiopia Business Association invites everybody to the 8th Annual Cultural Street Festival on September 13, 2009 from 2-8pm on Fairfax Avenue between Olympic Boulevard and Whitworth Avenue in the heart of Little Ethiopia. Each year this exciting event is attended by thousands and this year is going to be no different.

Besides the usual exotic shops, street-lined booths, world-renowned restaurants and the beautiful aroma of spices and coffee, the event will include an entertainment presentation with guest speakers, as well as performances from cultural dance and music groups.

The Association is working in partnership to present an International Unity Parade to take place beginning at 12pm. The parade will start at the corner of Pico and Fairfax and head north to Whitworth and Fairfax.

Little Ethiopia Business Association has prepared a memorable day and invites all to enjoy the delights of one of the oldest cultures in the world.

BACKGROUND ON LITTLE ETHIOPIA DISTRICT OF LOS ANGELES

In 2004, former Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn officially branded the neighborhood as Little Ethiopia.

Over a 10-year period, a number of Ethiopian restaurants and specialty store businesses slowly began to relocate to a strip on Fairfax Avenue. The neighborhood was soon transformed from an abandoned boarded up drive-by strip into a hub for community life, buzzing with colors, aroma, and affability of Ethiopian’s ancestral home. As years passed, Ethiopians and Angelinos began to label the area as “Little Addis”, “Little Ethiopia”, and “Ethiopian Restaurant Row”.

The chain of events that led to the fruition of Little Ethiopia began when Meron Ahadu and Tirsit Asrat organized a fundraising for Congressman Mervyn Dymally, who played a key role in the mid 80’s in helping Ethiopians get amnesty. At the time, he was running for a seat in the California State Assembly. Unfortunately, the turnout by the Ethiopian community was disappointing. Nonetheless, it was at this event that the idea of Little Ethiopia was put forth and the Congressman pledged his support.

Five women came together to plan another benefit for the Congressman with a goal to get better participation from the Ethiopian community. It was at this time that the need became apparent to form a non-partisan organization that stood for an increased involvement of the Ethiopian community in the U.S. democratic process. Hence, the Ethiopian-American Advocacy Group (EAAG) was established. In addition to raising funds for Congressman Dymally, the function held on July 26, 2002 was the launching ceremony of EAAG. Various city and state officials attended this highly successful event. One of the short-term projects presented at this occasion was Little Ethiopia and it won the support of Herb Wesson, Speaker of the House for the California State Assembly, and Councilman Nate Holden of District 10, where Little Ethiopia was proposed to be located.

On August 7, 2002, the motion to name Little Ethiopia was presented to the Los Angeles City Council. Consequently, as a result of aggressive lobbying of several political personalities by EAAG members, the City Council voted unanimously to designate the area on Fairfax Avenue, between Olympic and Pico, as Little Ethiopia. The enormous support and candid enthusiasm of the City Council members and the larger Ethiopian community came as a pleasant surprise to many, even to those who worked on the project. A highly successful street festival organized by the community followed on November 24, 2002, to inaugurate the area as Little Ethiopia. A one-block stretch of Fairfax was closed to through traffic for a street festival featuring children’s village, cultural dance and music, fashion show and contemporary Ethiopian music. Approximately 5,000 people attended the festival from all walks of life and congratulations were received from around the globe. City officials and community leaders unveiled the sign designating the place as Little Ethiopia and thus the area was renamed bearing Ethiopia’s name.

This event was truly significant in many respects; firstly, this was the first time in the entire history of the United States that a city has recognized an African country by naming an area after it. Secondly, Little Ethiopia is the only place outside of Ethiopia that bears the name of the motherland. As one drives through the area, it is difficult to ignore the official sign designating the area.

There are 65,000 Ethiopians in Southern California and more than 500,000 Ethiopians in the U.S.


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Posted by:

Justine
Highland Park
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