Sonoma Valley’s Chinese History and Early Civil Rights Struggles in California

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Adult, Senior
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Program Description


Join historian Arthur Dawson for an exploration of our Chinese history, the struggles of other marginalized groups, the roles played by locals Charles Stuart and C.C. O’Donnell in fighting or fomenting prejudice, and how this history lives on today.

Jack Ding, Mayor of Sonoma, will conclude the program with remarks about the recognition of the Chinese contributions to Sonoma Valley today.


In 1870, Chinese immigrants made up 10% of Sonoma Valley’s population. Through their labor and expertise, they were making valuable contributions to the early wine industry and local agriculture. Their presence was a rich cultural thread in the community fabric. 

Despite their positive influence, the Chinese, along with Black and Indigenous peoples, faced increasingly racist laws and prejudice in the 19th century. As a result, within a short time Sonoma’s Chinese population virtually disappeared and their legacy was nearly forgotten.