Multicultural Roots Project: Stories from Santa Rosa's Black, Indigenous, People of Color

Engage with the Multicultural Roots Project

Help us expand this rich and important historical record of our community! Do you have ideas for past or current BIPOC community leaders that we should highlight? Would you like to share your own story with us? We'd love to hear from you. Check out our interactive Multicultural Roots Project site where you can share your stories, ideas and even use an interactive map to highlight places in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County that are important to our communities of color. VISIT INTERACTIVE SITE

Celebrating the Bayanihan Spirit of Pilipino American History Month

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This month, we recognize the extraordinary "Bayanihan" (or community spirit) Pilipinx Americans have brought to Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and the United States. As hate crimes against Asian Americans continue to escalate across the country, it is crucial to understand the significance Pilipinx Americans have had on the fabric of our community. We invite our Santa Rosa friends, family, and loved ones to honor the valuable social, cultural, and economic impacts Pilipinx Americans have had on our city, as well as their efforts in supporting and promoting the health and wellness of our society. READ MORE

National Hispanic Heritage Month

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This month, the City of Santa Rosa celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15, 2021) to recognize the achievements and contributions of the Hispanic and Latinx communities. The Latinx community plays a critical role in the prosperity of our city, from their significant economic contributions to their positive community influences through their service, compassion, family commitment, professional advancement, and vibrant culture. As a city that thrives on diversity and the wellbeing of our people, we hope you join us in celebrating this month and continue valuing the cultural contributions of our Latinx friends and neighbors. READ MORE

Fall 2021 Historical and Current Community Leader Spotlight

 Margie Talaugon: Finding Happiness in Community  

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On a chilly winter day on a small farm near Guadalupe, California, Margie Talaugon entered the world. Margie faced many struggles growing up. As a daughter of immigrants, she witnessed the racism and discrimination her parents endured as laws prevented Filipinos from voting, buying land, having interracial marriages, and owning businesses. These hardships led her to develop a lot of anger and hostility towards the world. But she soon realized that no one could grant her happiness but herself. She found her happiness in helping her community. In the two and a half decades she lived in Sonoma County, she became a well-known community leader.  READ MORE 

Gone but not Forgotten: Inocencio and Felisa Asuelo

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Inocencio Asuelo was born on July 29, 1909, in the Philippines. Fondly known as Sonny, Inocencio immigrated to the US in the early 1930s to work for another local historical figure, Mr. Frank P. Doyle, President of the Exchange Bank and “Father of the Golden Gate Bridge”. He worked for the Doyle family as a chauffeur and gardener. That same year, Inocencio saved enough money to return to the Philippines and bring his bride and childhood sweetheart, Felisa, to the United States. With Inocencio’s support and sponsorship from Mr. Doyle, Felisa became the first Filipina to live in Santa Rosa and the greater Sonoma County area.  READ MORE

Omar Gallardo: Cultivating Community Through Nature

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Sitting down at the beautiful Bayer Farm in Roseland, the love and care that went into the space is apparent. A flourishing community garden with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, the plot represents Omar Gallardo's commitment to the community. Raised in Michoacán, México, and Northern California, Omar has desired to empower his community his entire life. Currently, Omar is serving as the New Audiences Manager of LandPaths. As New Audiences Manager, he encourages Sonoma County residents, particularly local youth, to learn about their local outdoor spaces and raise awareness of environmental conservation efforts to preserve and protect the area's natural beauty. READ MORE

Benny Carranza: Bracero Farm Worker and Professional Basketball Player

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The start of World War II brought significant changes across Sonoma County, one of them being the Bracero Program. The Bracero Program was a collaboration between Mexico and the United States that guaranteed Mexican farmworkers basic protections like housing and minimum wage in exchange for their labor. In 1943, the first Braceros arrived from the Mexican border on a chartered bus near Wood Ranch. Many Mexican fieldworkers stepped off, one of them being Benny Carranza. READ MORE

A Tribute to Beloved Community Leader Carlos del Pozo

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Carlos del Pozo was a humble, empathetic person who touched many lives across Sonoma County. He was a true community leader dedicated to providing the necessary tools for everyone to achieve social justice and equality. Ever since he was a child in Antigua, Guatemala, Carlos was heavily involved in community service. As a child, he helped with his school earthquake cleanups and assisted the local Indigenous community in constructing a health center and installing bathroom showers. These experiences motivated him to continue serving the community and help make his community a better place. READ MORE

Community Visionary Juliet Rosales

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Juliet Rosales was born in Hayward, California and has roots from Michoacan, Mexico. Juliet envisions a healthy community and hopes to inspire others to analyze and advocate for issues in their local communities. As an inspiring and motivational advocate, Juliet has created transformational changes at her school and local community. Her accomplishments also include serving on the Board of Directors for Latino Service Providers and being Program Manager for the Graton Day Labor Center. READ MORE

Previously Featured Stories

  1. Margie Talaugon: Finding Happiness in Community

    On a chilly winter day on a small farm near Guadalupe, California, Margie Cabatuan entered the world. Margie faced many struggles growing up. Margie was born during the Great Depression to a family of six children. As a daughter of immigrants, she...

  2. Celebrating the Bayanihan Spirit of Pilipino American History Month

    This October is Pilipino American History Month (PAHM), a month-long celebration aiming to promote the enrichment and appreciation of Pilipinx Americans in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and the greater United States. Pilipinx Americans are one of the...

  3. Inocencio and Felisa Asuelo: Gone but not Forgotten

    Inocencio Asuelo was born on July 29, 1909, in the Philippines. Fondly known as Sonny, Inocencio immigrated to the US in the early 1930s to work for another local historical figure, Mr. Frank P. Doyle, President of the Exchange Bank and “Father...

  4. Celebrating the Bayanihan Spirit of Pilipino American History Month

    This October is Pilipino American History Month (PAHM), a month-long celebration aiming to promote the enrichment and appreciation of Pilipinx Americans in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and the greater United States. Pilipinx Americans are one of the...

  5. Omar Gallardo: Cultivating Community Through Nature

    Sitting down at the beautiful Bayer Farm in Roseland, the love and care that went into the space is apparent. A flourishing community garden abundant fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, the plot represents Omar Gallardo's commitment to the...

  6. Benny Carranza: Bracero Farm Worker and Professional Basketball Player

    The start of World War II brought significant changes across Sonoma County, one of them being the Bracero Program. The Bracero Program was a collaboration between Mexico and the United States that guaranteed Mexican farmworkers basic protections like...

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What is the Multicultural Roots Project?

"This project is important to me because I grew up thinking my community was diverse only because of the people I saw. I didn't know the history was so rich and included leaders and social justice pioneers from BIPOC communities." - Monse Salas, AmeriCorp VISTA and Youth Intern at Latino Service Providers

The Multicultural Roots Project was created to increase visibility for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in Sonoma County, with a particular focus on Santa Rosa; and to recognize, through historical stories from BIPOC, contributions and impacts that have shaped Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. Working with local historians and community partners, Community Engagement staff gather stories and facts about local BIPOC leaders, as well as historical events and places that have shaped Santa Rosa and Sonoma County into what it is today. Each month, we will share five of these stories with the public through multiple communication channels, including the City’s website, social media and this newsletter.

Selection Process

Stories are selected using a variety of sources including local historical books such as Glimpses by Rev. Ann Gray-Byrd, Santa Rosa: A 19th Century Town by Gaye LaBaron, et. al.; Sonoma State digital archives; Sonoma County Library resources; and articles from local media such as the Press Democrat. The Community Engagement Office's AmeriCorp VISTAs select stories to focus on and conduct research on six (6) historical leaders or events and four (4) current community leaders. These ten (10) stories are then given to the Project Advisory Group for review and selection of five final stories. The City's Community Advisory Board provides assistance with the Project by brainstorming current and historical leaders and by assisting with disseminating the stories.

Project Advisory Team

  • Ariana Diaz de León, Community Member
  • David Escobar, Sonoma County Lowrider Council 
  • Kristi Gray, Community Member
  • Felecia Ford, Community Member 
  • Evette Minor, Community Member
  • Guadalupe Navarro, Latino Service Providers
  • Shawntel Reece, Community Member
  • Evan Phillips, Community Member
  • Alicia Sanchez, Community Member