Members of the Ukrainian diaspora across the United States have been responding with grief, rage and solidarity with their compatriots as Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of their country.
Ukrainian-Americans from New York City to Sacramento have been expressing their growing anxiousness towards the escalating conflict, singing prayers, launching fundraisers and organizing solidarity rallies.
Currently, there are more than 1.1 million members of the Ukrainian-American diaspora. Ukrainians have been immigrating to the United States since the late 19th century when many arrived in 1877 to work in the Pennsylvania mines. However, the largest immigration wave came after the second world war where thousands of displaced Ukrainians sought refuge in large American cities including New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago.
Many more fled during the cold war and also its aftermath, immigrating to the United States and Canada. In 2019, Ukrainians were one of the top groups resettled as refugees in the United States under the Donald Trump administration.
In the Ukrainian American community in Detroit, one of the country’s largest and most active Ukrainian diasporas, people have been organizing prayer services and speaking with elected officials to urge them to speak up against Russian aggression.
According to Mykola Murskyj, chair of the Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan, there are about a dozen Ukrainian churches in southeastern Michigan, with many more Ukrainian Saturday schools, credit unions, grade schools and cultural centers in metro Detroit.
These organizations have already been hosting rallies and launching fundraisers, said Murskyj, whose grandparents emigrated from Ukraine which was then part of the Soviet Union.
“There’s a lot of anxiety and there’s a lot of determination,” she told the Detroit Free Press.