To encourage awareness of local history and civic engagement with Nick Gabaldón Day 2016 as a focal point, myself, Alison Rose Jefferson, Ph.D. (historian and Santa Monica Conservancy member), Sara Wan (former California Coastal Commissioner), Black Surfers Collective co-president Greg Rachel and Surf Academy’s Marion Clark participated in a Santa Monica High School, Freshmen Civic Action Seminar on Monday, February 29th. Meredith McCarthy of Heal the Bay acted as our moderator and organized the panel.
We discussed with the students the history of the event, the Inkwell monument site and issues of equal access to public beach and resources. Mostly, attentively listening to our presentations, the 600 students asked thoughtful questions in the discussion section after the panel presentations. From their studies and by the examples of our presentations it was imparted to the students that civic action can take many forms.
Nick Gabaldón Day is a cutting edge program to encourage history studies, heritage and nature conservation and environmental justice ideals to engage broader audiences in the conservation and stewardship of our natural and historical heritage by intersecting with the enjoyment of beach recreational activities. This programming infuses into the collective memory of American culture the forgotten stories of those African Americans who enjoyed the Bay Street beach/Inkwell and struggled for their California dreams, and our shared civic identity, though empowering people of all ages with useful knowledge to be a force for civic engagement, while facilitating individual and community pride.
Part of the students’ assignment for the semester-long seminar is to do a civic action project around what they will have learned from their engagement with Nick Gabaldón Day programming, which could include: volunteer work (including learning to be docents who interprets the Inkwell site), oral histories, public hearing attendance, an essay or an artwork, among other outcomes. Some of these projects will be on display or presented at the Heal the Bay Aquarium at Santa Monica Pier on the day of the event.
The June 4th, 2016 date will mark the 5th year of Nick Gabaldón Day programming. Nick Gabaldón was the first documented surfer of African and Mexican American descent in the Santa Monica Bay. The celebration takes place at the historic Inkwell, Tower 20, Santa Monica Beach at the end of Bay Street. The site is the historical African American beach site from the Jim Crow era, and the location where Nick Gabaldón first began his ocean experiences.
Watch for more details to come soon on this upcoming June 2016 programming.