Click on book jacket image for more information on the book.
I want to call your attention to vital contributions to the understanding of the African American experience in the nation and particularly the American West from the past for the present and future occurring in the last year. Important new books by Marne L. Campbell (Making Black Los Angeles, Class, Gender, and Community 1850–1917), Karl Jacoby (The Strange Career of William Ellis, The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire) and Amina Hassan (Loren Miller: Civil Rights Attorney and Journalist), offer broader and refreshing perspectives that make historians and general readers rethink the challenges, complexity and complexion of the history of borderlands, racial identity, freedom rights struggles, socio-economic success, migration and urban community formation in the American West. Ibram X. Kendi’s new book (Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America) which won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction is another important read for understanding the history of the United States for contemporary times. You can purchase these books at your favorite booksellers.
Other vital contributions to the understanding of the African American experience in the United States arrived in 2016 and early 2017 in the form of popular culture must-see films based on untold true stories included: “Hidden Figures” (based on the book Hidden Figures by Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly about African American women mathematicians who contributed to early U.S. space exploration), “Birth of a Nation” based on the 1831 Nat Turner slave rebellion (Nate Parker) and “Moonlight” about an African American youth’s navigation of identity, gender and growing up in Florida (Barry Jenkins).
“I Am Not Your Negro” (Raoul Peck) is a potent documentary film that will introduce many to the work of writer and social critic James Baldwin. The film is a collaboration with the deceased intellectual, and his 1970s unfinished work about Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the context of
the U.S.’s “persistent, racially tense sociological climate” that set off centuries of division we live with even in 2017. Another must-see film for its illumination of the impact on U.S. society of particular contemporary racial issues is the evocative documentary “13th“ which explores the view that racism from the days of slavery has led to today’s mass incarceration across the nation (Ava DuVarney).
Posted in Art & Culture, heritage conservation, History, Intangible Heritage | Tagged african americans, documentary, history | Leave a Comment »
With the opening of the new Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture (SI / NMAAHC) in Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to attend the artifacts donors preview (Saturday, September 17), along with some of the other opening programming in the new building and on the Washington Mall (September 22–24, 2016). As a participant in and attendee at this historic event I was able to view the photographs I contributed of African Americans from California displayed in the
Historian Alison Rose Jefferson in front of part of the exhibit which features photographs of Dr. Peter Price Cobbs and Rosa Mashaw Cobbs as they are in the process of migrating from Montgomery, Alabama to Los Angeles, California in the 1920s. Jefferson donated the photographs to the permanent exhibits of the SI Nat’l Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, 17 September 2016.
permanent exhibits in the new, nineteenth Smithsonian Institution (SI) museum. The Museum architecture and layout are brilliantly done, giving visitors a sense of African Americans’ journey from the darkness of enslavement through freedom struggles and the long civic rights movement, while shaping and impacting American society and history with many cultural, social, political and economic accomplishments. Learn more about the photographs I contributed to the NMAAHC opening exhibits here.
Cristyne Lawson pointing at a photograph of grandmother Mary McReynolds Stout who migrated from Texas to the Los Angeles area in 1908. Historian Alison Rose Jefferson facilitated this photograph becoming part of the permanent exhibits of the new SI Nat’l Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, 17 September 2016.
In May 2017 I attended another new SI museum opening event the “Future of the Black Past” Conference, which offered fresh views on African American history and an agenda to guide future inquiry. Contributing to the exploration of the African American experience, preserving broader voices in American History, and participating the new Museum’s opening programming is fulfilling work!
Due to popular demand, if you want to visit the new SI museum you must have a “Timed Pass” to enter for the foreseeable future. Go to the NMAAHC website for information to plan your visit.
Enjoy all the wonderful stories told in the NMAAHC exhibits! See stories guests have posted about their visit to the new African American museum at #APeoplesJourney and #MakingHistory.
Posted in Art & Culture, heritage conservation, History | Tagged african americans, history, national museum of african american history and culture, smithsonian institution | Leave a Comment »
At the DouglasPlus Conversation making audiences aware of the Roger Guenveur Smith and Richard Montoya play-in-progress tentatively titled “American Venice” and their research process and consultants. Photography courtesy of the Kirk Douglas Theatre/L.A. Center Theatre Group, 1 June 2016.
On the untold stories front and making Los Angeles history alive through theatre, on June 1, 2016 an audience viewed a glimpse into the creative and research processes of award winning Los Angeles writer-performing artists/anthropologists Richard Montoya and Roger Guenveur Smith as they made the public aware of their play-in-progress tentatively titled “American Venice.” As part of a DouglasPlus Conversation “Excavating Venice of America” held at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California –– I, Los Angeles historian Alison Rose Jefferson, Josh Kun of University of Southern California (a 2016 McArthur Fellowship awardee) and George Price, a third generation Venetian, joined Montoya and Smith in a conversation about stories of Los Angeles’ shared and contested history of this iconic oceanfront neighborhood. L.A. Center Theatre Group’s Associate Artistic Director Diana Rodriguez was the evening’s moderator. As consultants on this project, I and the other speakers along with the audience were pleased to have a chance to hear Montoya and Smith read excerpts from the play-in-progress. More information about the opening of the “American Venice” play based on untold true stories about the African American and other group’s experiences will arrive in late 2017.
Roger Guenveur Smith and Richard Montoya, writer-performing artists at the DouglasPlus Conversation performing a section of their play-in-progress tentatively titled “American Venice” to encourage audience awareness of the upcoming formal staging of the new work. Photography courtesy of Kirk Douglas Theatre/L.A. Center Theatre Group, 1 June 2016.
Alison Rose Jefferson, Los Angeles historian and Diana Rodriguez, L.A. Center Theatre Group’s Ass. Artistic director participating in the DouglasPlus Conversation making audiences aware of the Roger Guenveur Smith and Richard Montoya play-in-progress tentatively titled “American Venice.” Photography courtesy of the Kirk Douglas Theatre/L.A. Center Theatre Group, 1 June 2016.
Posted in Art & Culture, Events, heritage conservation, History, Inkwell, Nick Gabaldon | Tagged african americans, beach, inkwell, nick gabaldon, richard montoya, roger guenveur smith, santa monica | Leave a Comment »
In the Los Angeles area, 2016 marked important milestones for the interpretation of African American experience at Santa Monica’s Bay Street/Inkwell monument site for contemporary audiences. The fifth year of the Nick Gabaldón Day celebration with new and different activities such as a Santa Monica High School seminar and a multi-media art project display created by artist Yrneh Brown added to the educational programming to engage broader audiences in learning about our collective history, social action, beach access issues, and nature conservation intersection with the enjoyment of the beach. Learn about who Nick Gabaldón was and why there is a celebration in his honor here.
Nick Gabaldón Day, June 2016 at the opening ceremony, Bay Street/Inkwell Monument, Santa Monica California. Photography courtesy of the Black Surfers Collective Facebook page.
It was also the fifth year the International/California Coastal Cleanup Day (ICCC Day) event staging at the Bay Street/Inkwell monument site. Marking this ICCC Day 2016 occasion, California Coastal Commissioner Effie Turnbull-Sanders, former Santa Monica City Council member Nat Trives and Santa Monica Conservancy members lead by president Carol Lemlein aided a group of Los Angeles youth in learning about cultural landscape of the historical African American beach site, beach access issues and civic action as they were educated about how to keeping our watershed unpolluted by participating in the cleanup effort.
Save the date for the 2017 Nick Gabaldón Day scheduled for Saturday, June 3 and ICCC Day set for Saturday, September 16. Watch for more information on both events in the coming months.
Santa Monica civil leader Nat Trives, Commissioner Effie Turnbull-Sanders, California Coastal Commission and Carol Lemlein, Santa Monica Conservancy president pose with Los Angeles youth who participated in learning about history and community service at the 2016 Int’l/CA Coastal Cleanup Day, 17 September 2016.
Posted in heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged african americans, beach, black surfers collective, california coastal cleanup, coastal cleanup day, heal the bay, inkwell, nick gabaldon, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy | Leave a Comment »
On the beach at Nick Gabaldón Day, June 4, 2016, Bay Street/Inkwell monument site, Santa Monica, California. Portrait of NG by Richard Wyatt. Photography courtesy of Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay.
Nick Gabaldón Day, a celebration of African American beach culture heritage with introductory surf lessons and experiences with ocean stewardship was held this year on Saturday, June 4. The Bay Street/Inkwell monument site, Heal the Bay’s Aquarium, Santa Monica High and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook Park were venues for the multifaceted programming leading up to and on Nick Gabaldón Day. Here you can view highlights of this year’s programming. Two thousand sixteen marks the fifth year of this celebration and each year different events have been added as part of the programming to engage audiences in learning about our shared history, social action and nature conservation intersecting with the enjoyment of the beach.
On February 7, 2008, the city of Santa Monica officially recognized this important Jim Crow era, African American gathering place controversially called “the Inkwell,” as well as Nick Gabaldón, the first documented surfer of African- and Mexican-American descent, with a landmark monument at Bay Street and Oceanfront Walk. In the celebration of our American, California and Santa Monica heritage, we are encouraged to take a harder look at the complex layers of our history. Although some may not recognize it, these stories of the Bay Street/Inkwell site and Nick Gabaldón are part of American history. All of us, no matter how recently arrived, share in these stories.
This 2016 educational and recreational programming was made possible by the Black Surfers Collective (BSC), Surf Bus Foundation, Heal the Bay, the Santa Monica Conservancy, the California State Coastal Conservancy, The Bay Foundation and other organizations. Many media pieces appeared about the programming in the regional online and print media.
Amanda Scurlock, sports writer for the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper covered the event. She did a video story on the June 4 day at the beach side which made its online debut July 23, 2016. Also check out her article on the programming which appeared in the newspaper on June 15, 2016.
Nick Gabaldón Day, June 4, 2016. Newbie surfers learning to catch a wave at Santa Monica’s Bay Street/Inkwell monument site. Photography courtesy of Rahassan Nichols.
The Santa Monica Mirror staff also did a cute short video story about the event. You can view many photographs of the beach side and other activities at the Facebook page of the Black Surfers Collective and on my (Alison Rose Jefferson) page and on the web (with the search term, Nick Gabaldon Day 2016).
Actor/playwright Roger Guenveur Smith (pictured with BSC’s William Lamar (surfer, actor and film producer) and historian Alison Rose Jefferson joined the Nick Gabaldón Day celebration to observe and participate in the surfers experiences of joy, self-fulfillment and education. Smith is writing a play with Richard Montoya (Culture Clash) for The Los Angeles Music Center Theatre Group called “American Venice” which will include some characters and scenes of African American beach life. Bay Street/Inkwell monument site — the Jim Crow era, African American beach hangout spot, Santa Monica, California. (4 June 2016) Photography courtesy of Lisa Tompkins.
Nick Gabaldón Day 2016 celebration at the Bay Street/Inkwell monument site — the Jim Crow era African American beach hangout spot in Santa Monica, California. (4 June 2016) Courtesy of the Black Surfers Collective Facebook page.
Posted in heritage conservation, historic preservation, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach, White Wash | Tagged african americans, beach, black surfers collective, environmental justice, nick gabaldon, santa monica, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy, santa monica pier aquarium, white wash | Leave a Comment »
Karl Jacoby will speak about his new book on William Henry Ellis aka Guillermo Enrique Eliseo at The Huntington Library on Wednesday, September 14 at 7. 30 PM. This book which I have read is about an African American man who exploited the fault lines of the borderlands between national and racial identity in the nineteenth to early twentieth century in the United States and Mexico to become very successful. Ellis lead an interesting life that many of you will be intrigued to learn about. The autobiography reads like a novel and is cinematic in the book narrative presentation. Another way to say this is, the book is easy.
The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire (Norton, 2016) explores the African American experience from both a domestic and international lens, and offers a broader and refreshing perspective on the challenges and triumphs of African Americans’ socio-economic success during the Gilded Age that is accessible to a broad audience. Descendants of Ellis’ sister live in the Los Angeles area and are pioneering African American Californians.
Posted in Art & Culture, heritage conservation, History, Uncategorized | Tagged african americans | Leave a Comment »
This year’s global Coastal Cleanup Day takes place on Saturday, September 17. Santa Monica College, the Santa Monica Conservancy, Heal the Bay, the L.A. Black Underwater Explorers and other organizations, again collaborate to educate the public about our diverse heritage, the African American experience and concern for our watershed and the precious California oceanfront in Santa Monica at a site sometimes controversially called “the Inkwell” and for social action.
The city of Santa Monica officially recognized in 2008 the Bay Street and Oceanfront Walk site for its significance as a place of communion and contestation where during the nation’s Jim Crow era (1900s–1960s) African Americans challenged racism and class structures to enjoy the beach. Additionally recognized at this site is Nick Gabaldón, the first documented surfer of African- and Mexican- American descent, who also attended Santa Monica College. A monument plaque was installed to honor those brave African Americans’ effort in opening up leisure and public spaces for all and for their contributions to the city’s development.
Santa Monica Conservancy docents will talk with volunteers about the history of this unique site as part of the programming for the day. You can read more about the African American trailblazers and the significance of Santa Monica Bay Street Beach here.
Location: Santa Monica Beach at Bay Street, near Lifeguard Tower 20
Parking Lot 4 South, Enter at Bicknell Street
For more information, go to Heal the Bay/Coastal Cleanup Day 2016
Posted in heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach, Uncategorized | Tagged african americans, beach, california coastal cleanup, coastal cleanup day, inkwell, nick gabaldon, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy | Leave a Comment »
View of the SI National Museum of African American History and Culture on 17th Street near Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington DC before the completion of its construction. Photography by Alison Rose Jefferson. (May 19, 2016)
The Time Has Finally Come. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opens to the public on September 24 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It will be the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution (SI) and is located at the foot of the Washington Monument and a few blocks from The White House.
The museum will be a place where people can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience and how it has shaped the American identity. As a place of meaning, memory, reflection, laughter, and hope, the museum intends to serve in collaboration with museums and educational institutions outside of Washington to engage new audiences in exploration and preservation of African American history, culture and community throughout the nation and globally.
NMAAHC has held several programs over the last few years to engage the public and scholars for support of the efforts to create the collections and to raise money for the construction of the new museum building and the institution’s future programming. Working with curator and historian Spencer Crew, I contributed three photographs to NMAAHC’s opening permeant exhibits representing the African American migration to Los Angeles from the American South in the 1920s and tourism in the American West in the 1900s from my personal collection and that of Cristyne Lawson.
In May 2016 as part of the celebration of the opening of the the new SI museum, the American Historical Association and NMAAHC held a conference featuring historians offering fresh views on the field of African American History that I attended in Washington DC. The conference intent was to “provide an
At the “Future of the African American Past” Conference in Washington, DC (May 2016), Historian Alison Rose Jefferson, Lonnie G. Bunch III (Ex. Dir., SI National Museum of African American History and Culture) and Dr. Amina Hassan, author of the recent book, Loren Miller: Civil Rights Attorney and Journalist (2015). If you have not read Hassan’s book yet, you can buy it for yourself and for a present to a friend at the gift store in NMAAHC upon your visit.
opportunity for historians to share research and ideas . . . and set an agenda to guide future inquiry.” It was a fruitful gathering of some of the most distinguished historians in their varied fields of American history and the African American experience. There was much to be learned from the presentations shared from the stage and the conversations amongst the participants in the audiences during the conference breaks. You can view video and the blog from the “Future of the African American Past” conference here.
Read about how the museum came to be and the vision for its future from Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of NMAAHC here.
Posted in Art & Culture, heritage conservation, History | Tagged african americans | Leave a Comment »
Bruce’s Beach Pop Up Structure, ca. 1910s. Courtesy of Bernard Bruce
If you missed my April 26 lecture at the Manhattan Beach Public Library on African American and women’s history at the early twentieth century Bruce’s Beach in the South Bay of Los Angeles County, here are two articles, which will give you a view of what I discussed.
“Prejudice, lies and history in Manhattan Beach” by Richard Foss, Easy Reader newspaper, Thursday, May 6, 2016.
“Exploring Los Angeles County’s Historic African-American Beaches” by Lauren Walser, National Trust for Historic Preservation e-newsletter, Friday, July 8, 2016.
Much more will be a illuminated about the history of Bruce’s Beach, its historical actors and the issues that have impacted our knowledge and understanding of this place over the twentieth century in a chapter of my forthcoming book “Leisure’s Race, Power and Place, Recreation and Remembrance of African Americans in the California Dream” (working title) to be published by the University of Nebraska Press. You can learn more about this upcoming book here.
Posted in Bruce's Beach, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Intangible Heritage, Manhattan Beach | Tagged african americans | Leave a Comment »
“African American Leisure, Southern California Tales and Bruce’s Beach”
An illustrated lecture by Alison Rose Jefferson, Ph.D.
Photography by: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times (click to enlarge)
The history of the Afro-Angeleno resort from the Jim Crow era (1900s–1960s), and how it has been remembered over the last century will be illuminated in this presentation.
April 26, 2016 –– 7.00 to 8.30 PM
Manhattan Beach Public Library
1320 Highland Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
The presentation to be delivered will be prepared from a chapter of my UC Santa Barbara dissertation study, “Leisure’s Race, Power and Place: The Recreation and Remembrance of African Americans in the California Dream.” This manuscript is being prepared for book publication.
* Sponsored by the MB Senior Citizens Resources Committee, MB Parks & Recreation Older Adults Program, MB-Cultural Heritage Conservancy, MB Historical Society, and Manhattan Beach Public Library. See event flier here.
Posted in Bruce's Beach, Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Intangible Heritage | Tagged Bruce's Beach | Leave a Comment »
Alison Rose Jefferson and Sara Wan looking out at what would eventually be 600 energetic Santa Monica High School students getting seated for our presentations to their Freshmen Civic Action Seminar managed by Martha Chacon, Emily Kariya and Carl Hobkirk, on Monday, February 29th, 2016. Photography courtesy of Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay. (click to enlarge)
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.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Events, History, Inkwell, Nick Gabaldon | 1 Comment »
Speaker Alison Rose Jefferson with Lily Holleman and Richard Gilson of the Los Angeles Breakfast Club at their Wednesday, March 30th program. (click to enlarge)
On Wednesday, March 30, 2016 I was invited to speak about the history of race relations at Santa Monica Beach at Los Angeles Breakfast Club meeting by member Steve McAvoy. For over 90 years the Club has hosted a weekly breakfast and speakers on topics covering the community and the world.
Living up to their motto of “making Los Angeles a better place since 1925,” this was an intellectually engaged group of people who know how to throw down with a good breakfast and bit of fun at their meetings, which begin at 7.00 AM. The Breakfast Club Foundation also provides opportunities to support good works throughout the community or through hands-on work with organizations whose work they highlight.
The Club meets and eats on Wednesday mornings at the Friendship Auditorium on Riverside Drive near Griffith Park. Potential new members are welcome to join.
Posted in Events, History, Santa Monica Beach | Leave a Comment »
I hope for all of you, 2015 was a year of accomplishments, memorable moments, inspiration and a few adventures. Often this time of year promotes reflection on ones activities of the past year, and how to build on them for the next year and beyond.
Delight and Peace, Shadow Selfie-Portrait. Photograph by Alison Rose Jefferson. (8 July 2015) (click to enlarge)
I wish you joy, inspiration, fulfillment, tranquility and good health in 2016.
Click on the headings below to view my more full musing of the highlights from the past twelve months in words and photographs.
Accomplishments and New Life Opportunities
For me it was a busy year of finishing up a phase of investment in knowledge attainment to explore new life directions and enhanced career opportunities. To those of you who do not know, yes, in December 2015 I totally finished the process, including my dissertation to earn my doctorate in History from University of California, Santa Barbara…
While winding down the formal education process this past year, I was happily able to continue supporting efforts to inspire, engage and empower new and broader audiences to learn about the history of SoCal’s African American experiences….with the Santa Monica Conservancy, the African American surfing groups…The Forgotten Surfer Project…more>
Travel, Adventure, Learning, Exploration and Renewed Inspiration
Also, this past summer I managed to squeeze in a little travel and adventure that was inspirational and will be educationally useful for the future. I made a presentation at the 2015 Collegium for African American Research (CAAR) Conference in Liverpool (United Kingdom) and toured the city. From there I rode the train to London and then on to Paris (France). Next I made a stop in Venice (Italy).
While in these cities I specifically set out to engage with the African diaspora community history in each place, and to some extent with their contemporary cultural influences. I learned about the hundreds of years of this history in these European places and the multi-cultural societies that many people chose to overlook or have little awareness of…more>
Posted in Art & Culture, Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Saturday, September 19, 2015, 9.00 AM to 12.00 PM
(click to enlarge to download)
Local organizations join together in the worldwide annual beach cleanup at the Bay Street/Inkwell monument. The historical African American beach site became a cleanup site in 2012.
In 2008 the city of Santa Monica installed the monument at Bay Street and Oceanfront Walk officially recognized this important Jim Crow era African American gathering place. Additionally recognized at this site is Nick Gabaldón, the first documented surfer of African and Mexican American descent, who also attended Santa Monica College.
At this site Gabaldón and others challenged racism and class structures to enjoy beach public space, and contributed to opening up leisure and public spaces for all Americans.
In addition to cleaning up the beach and learning about ocean stewardship from Heal the Bay, docents from the Santa Monica Conservancy will be on hand to talk with beach cleanup volunteers and anyone stopping at their exhibit about the history of this unique site sometimes known as “the Inkwell.” Members of the Los Angeles Black Underwater Explorers will also share information and a display about scuba diving and marine life.
Location: Santa Monica Beach at Bay Street, near Lifeguard Tower 20
Parking Lot 4 South, Enter at Bicknell Street
Site sponsors: Heal the Bay, Santa Monica College, the Santa Monica Conservancy, the Black Surfers Collective, the California Historical Society, the Los Angeles Black Underwater Explorers and others.
Posted in Events, History, Inkwell, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged california coastal cleanup, coastal cleanup day, heal the bay, inkwell, los angeles black underwater explorers, nick gabaldon, santa monica conservancy | Leave a Comment »
There are a few new activities that have occurred over the last few months of 2015 that I wanted to share with my community of interest. This means folks like you, whom I share information with from time to time.
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(click to link)
To kick off the summer beach season, I was asked to write an article in The Argonaut newspaper on the history of the Jim Crow era, African American beach site in Santa Monica. Fortunately I was able to include a promo for Nick Gabaldón Day 2015, Saturday, May 30 towards the end of the article.
At the May 30 event the Black Surfers Collective, the Surf Bus Foundation, Los Angeles County 3rd District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Heal The Bay, the Santa Monica Conservancy, Body Glove, Los Angeles County Lifeguards and the City of Santa Monica offered a day of surf lessons, beach exploration, history lessons and more for young and old to commemorate the life of Nick Gabaldón (1927–1951) and other African American pioneers. After you read the Argonaut article, for more info on the event, go to BlackSurfersCollective.org.
If you missed the May 30 event, the BSC will offer free surfing lessons and family fun at Pan African Beach Days the second Sunday of the month–July 12, August 9, September 13 and October 11–at Santa Monica beach near Tower 29. Go to the Black Surfers Collective website for details. Hope to see you there.
Innovative programming to inspire, engage and empower youth to help build personal experiences with natural, cultural and historical heritage that are the foundation of stewardship, and the development of the next generation of engaged citizens. Middle school boys mentored by Concerned Black Men Cares, LA have a fulfilling day at the beach learning about history and ocean stewardship, and how to surf at Nick Gabaldon Day 2014 at the historic Inkwell at Bay Street in Santa Monica. Maurice Bunton, the group’s program manager said recently, “the young men mentioned this event as their favorite of last year. When the thought of participating in Nick Gabaldon Day 2015 was discussed, the boys nearly went through the roof with excitement. The boys were really wowed with the black history made real at the event last year, and their excitement to participate again this year went through the roof.” Photograph by Maurice Bunton, Program Manager, Concerned Black Men Cares, LA.
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Woman surfers strutted their stuff for Women’s International Surfing Month (May 2015)! The Wahine Project developed a beautiful poster to remind folks to check out the stories of women who surf. For more information on the organization’s efforts and programs, check here.
To celebrate the California African American experience in the California Dream, and to raise money for the Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguard Program, the Black Surfing Association, Malibu Surfing Association and other groups held the first Nick Gabaldón Charity Paddlethon on Saturday, February 28, 2015. The groups putting on the event raised a nice chunk of change to help the youth towards developing today, and into the future.
Hanging out on the sand at Santa Monica’s historic Bay Steet/Inkwell beach the 2015 Nick Gabaldon Memorial Paddlethon, Saturday, February 28, 2015.
L to R: Bill Kalmenson, Malcolm Carson and Alison Rose Jefferson.
It was a nice, but windy day at Santa Monica’s Bay Street, Jim Crow era African American beach site, formerly known as “Inkwell.” I was honored to be a participant in this new programming.
Fun was had by the paddlers in the ocean contest, observers on the sand and by all at lunch at Rusty’s Surf Ranch Restaurant on Santa Monica Pier. Some new friends were made, and reacquaintance occurred with some others. Live music at Rusty’s included the soulful acoustic Donny Wonderful and friends, and the reggae band, Pacific Coast High.
See the short film that Malibu Under Dogs made of different segments of the day’s program on the beach and at Rusty’s on Santa Monica Pier. Featured in the film are: Alison Rose Jefferson, Remy Smith, Allen Sarlo, Barry Roach, Tony Corley, John Hinkle, Rube Escalante, Jean Pierre Pereat, The Malibu Under Dogs and Nick Gabaldón.
Posted in Events, History, Inkwell, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged black surfers collective, black surfing association, concerned black men cares la, heal the bay, inkwell, malibu surfing association, nick gabaldon, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy, the wahine project | Leave a Comment »
I have the honor of being the keynote speaker at the Santa Monica Conservancy’s Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards program on February 8. I will discuss the layered Santa Monica history of the meeting’s location at Casa Del Mar Hotel, once a historical, Jim Crow era leisure space of African Americans sometimes known as the Inkwell. I hope to see you at the meeting, and please feel free to pass this information on. See announcement below.
Santa Monica Conservancy’s Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards
Sunday, February 8th, noon to 2 pm
At the Historic Hotel Casa Del Mar
1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405
We are pleased to invite you to our 2015 Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards, hosted by Hotel Casa Del Mar. In addition to presentation of the Preservation Awards, we will review the Conservancy’s successes in 2014 including an update on the Preservation Resource Center at the rehabilitated Shotgun House, and the election of the Board of Directors. Refreshments will include passed hors d’oeuvres and a no-host bar.
Photos from the Los Angeles Public Library collection taken at the “Inkwell”, left: ca 1920, center: ca 1924. Photo on right: Nick Gabaldon Day, June 1, 2013, Black Surfers Collective. (click to enlarge)
Our speaker will be historian Alison Rose Jefferson, who will discuss inclusiveness in cultural heritage conservation and interpretation in a talk on Diversity, Real Estate, and Remembrance in Santa Monica. She will describe her research and some innovative programming efforts at the “Inkwell,” the historical Jim Crow era, African-American beach site adjacent to the Casa del Mar which remained an important gathering place long after racial restriction attempts at public beaches were abandoned in 1927.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged february 2015, heritage conservation, historic conservation, inkwell, keynote speaker, nick gabaldon, santa monica, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy | Leave a Comment »
Saturday, September 20, 2014 • 9:00 A.M.–Noon
(click to enlarge for download)
Join Heal the Bay, Santa Monica College, the Santa Monica Conservancy, the Black Surfers Collective, the California Historical Society, Los Angeles Black Underwater Explorers and other local organizations in the annual cleanup at the historical African American beach/Inkwell Monument site in Santa Monica, California.
Santa Monica Beach at Bay Street, near Lifeguard Tower 20
Parking Lot 4 South, Enter at Bicknell Street
At this site we celebrate our collective love of the ocean and our layered community history through Coastal Cleanup Day site in Santa Monica. Volunteers will be educated about the history and environmental concerns of this site.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, Inkwell, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged black surfers collective, california coastal cleanup, california historical society, coastal cleanup day, heal the bay, inkwell, los angeles black underwater explorers, santa monica, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy, september 2014 | Leave a Comment »
My title of this article plays off an article title by Brentin Mock, the justice editor for Grist.com. He offers some really thought provoking commentaries on a variety of issues around the natural and cultural environment. Mock has written several enlightening articles this year on the lack of diversity in the various mainstream Green movements, and on the work by different African Americans and other overlooked and marginalized Americans working in the field.
From Mock I learned about a report particularly worth reading for anyone interested in outdoor activities and the Green movements, that included a discussion on diversity in these industry’s employment practices called “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations”. The report was produced by the group called Green 2.0, led by one of the leaders in environmental and race issues discussion, Dorceta Taylor.
Green 2.0: Accelerating Diversity in the Mainstream Environmental Movement (click to link)
Mock’s articles and Carolyn Finney’s new book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimaging the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors discussing environmental justice issues are inspiring me in my own work as a public historian and heritage conservation consultant.
The state of heritage conservation/historic preservation could also use more diversity in the representation of American expressions of cultural identity and pride. The spring 2014 issue of the Forum Journal, a National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) publication, looks at how some of the current American preservation practices could be improved to tell a broader range of American stories.
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Posted in heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Intangible Heritage | Tagged african americans, beach, brentin mock, carolyn finney, diversity, dorceta taylor, environment, environmental justice, forum journal spring 2014, green 2.0, national parks in america, national trust for historic preservation, september 2014, tanya bowers | Leave a Comment »
Over the last few months several articles appeared about African Americans’ and women’s history of enjoying the beach culture of California. First up, Ryan Reft’s three articles written for KCET’s online, Departures Columns Intersections commentary on Southern California beach culture, race and gender. Reft’s articles are an outgrowth of his viewing the documentary film, “White Wash” at the Organization of American Historians meeting in Atlanta, Georgia (April 10-13, 2014,) and hearing a panel session after the documentary featuring the film’s director Ted Woods, and historians, Prof. Krista Comer (Rice University), Prof. Michael Willard (California State University, Los Angeles) and doctoral candidate Alison Rose Jefferson (University of California, Santa Barbara).
Reft’s articles discuss a short history of women and African Americans in surfing, and the historical African American beach sites in California’s Manhattan Beach (Bruce’s Beach) and Santa Monica (Bay Street/Inkwell).
Riding Waves, Forging Communities: Surfing, Gender, and Feminism in 20th Century California, May 30, 2014
Fighting for Leisure: African Americans, Beaches, Civil Rights in Early 20th Century L.A., May 16, 2014
Surfing for Freedom: Black Surfers and Reclaiming Cultural History in Los Angeles, April 24, 2014
Mary aka Surf Sista on one of her long boards enjoying the waves. Photograph by Mike Avalon. (click to enlarge)
Check out the nice profile with great photographs, written about Mary Mills aka Surf Sista, a fabulous Black Angeleno resident and member of the Black surfer coalition groups, who loves the beach and began surfing when she was in her forties! Candace Stalder of Stalderart.com wrote “Surf Sista Goes Ricta~!” for DROPZONEla.com.
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Posted in Bruce's Beach, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Manhattan Beach, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach, White Wash | Tagged african americans, beach, candace stalder, krista comer, manhattan beach, mary miles, michael willard, ryan reft, santa monica, santa monica beach, september 2014, surf sista, ted woods | Leave a Comment »
Nick Gabaldón Day 2014 celebration at the historical African American beach site, “the Inkwell” in Santa Monica, California. Photography by Damien Baskette from the Black Surfers Collective Facebook page. (click to enlarge)
The sun was out and the surf was up for the Saturday, June 14, 2014 day of celebration around the pioneering African American and Mexican surfer Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951) and others that have come before us. Many youth, and a few adults, from the Los Angeles County region learning (or least tried) to stand on surfboards for the first time. All attending learned about local history, ocean stewardship and marine biology.
Youngsters learn about the history of the event site at the Bay Street/Inkwell historic site from historian Alison Rose Jefferson and the banner exhibit entitled, “Hidden Beach Stories & the California Dream: African Americans, Beach Culture, Santa Monica & the American Narrative” at Nick Gabaldón Day 2014. Bay Street/Inkwell historic site, Santa Monica, California. Photography by Damien Baskette from the Black Surfers Collective Facebook page. (click to enlarge)
Young people from the Challengers Boys & Girls Club and the Concerned Black Men mentoring programs of Los Angeles took their turn at learning to surf with volunteer instructors from the Black Surfers Collective and Surf Bus Foundation at the Bay Street beach sometimes referred to as the “Inkwell. This site at the end of Bay Street was a gathering place of African Americans during the nation’s Jim Crow era when racial restrictions on many areas of life sometimes occurred, even on some recreational public spaces.
Jeff Williams of the BSC and Marion Clark of Surf Bus Foundation/Surf Academy lead the surfing lessons. Meredith McCarthy headed up Heal the Bay’s teaching about ocean life at the shoreline. Also check out Meredith’s blog post about the event entitled, “Lessons From L.A. Beaches’ Checkered Past.” Santa Monica Conservancy volunteers Alison Rose Jefferson, Thomasine Rogas, Leslie Lambert and Carol Lemlein acted as docents, giving people information about the significance of Nick Gabaldón and the Inkwell site to regional and national history.
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Posted in BlackPast.org, Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged african americans, association for surfing professionals, beach, black surfers collective, marion clark, meredith mccarthy, nick gabaldon, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy, santa monica pier aquarium, september 2014, surf academy, surf bus foundation | Leave a Comment »
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Dr. Ned Kaufman will do an evening public lecture entitled “Extraordinary Prizes in Ordinary Places: How Preserving Everyday Things Can Save People and the Planet” on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 7.00pm at University of Southern California’s (USC) Pierre Koenig Lecture Hall/School of Architecture.
In his USC evening presentation Dr. Kaufman will discuss the general themes of rethinking the economics of heritage and historic preservation as a tool for achieving social justice, and how the field is forging new interdisciplinary alliances with public history, folklore, community planning and tourism promotion. Reception to follow.
Also on March 11, Dr. Kaufman will do a lunchtime program for graduate students, faculty, administrators and other interested parties at USC’s History Department Conference Room/SOS Room 250 from 12.00–1.30pm. He will talk about his current research around historic conservation, social justice, intangible resources, sustainability and the economics of heritage. He will also discuss his career inside and outside of academia. As more Ph.D.’s are seeking alternative careers, by choice and by necessity, Dr. Kaufman’s academic and non-academic career offers an example of a path of intellectually challenging and worthwhile work as a consultant, a public historian and a professor. A light lunch will be served at the session.
Admission is free to both USC programs. For more information contact me, Alison Rose Jefferson via this website.
Dr. Kaufman’s work is at the vanguard of historic preservation thought and activism. His scholarship, teaching and practice confront outmoded conventions and inspire us to question traditional methodologies for saving and interpreting historic sites. His scholarship reminds us why we must continue asking “why” we are preserving a site, challenging use to look beyond the analysis of beautiful buildings and materials conservation to connect with places through our shared life stories.
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Posted in Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Intangible Heritage | Tagged february 2014, ned kaufman | Leave a Comment »
At Pilgrim School’s BHM Assembly after the screening program of 12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldón Story (l to r): Remy Smith, Alison Rose Jefferson, Richard Yelland and Marcus Chatman with the Pilgrim student who recently had the opportunity to surf at Hawaii’s legendary North Shore! Eat your heart out guys and gals, and give a shot out to the fabulous, adventurous little guy! Photography by Carmen Wolf. (Click to enlarge)
February 6th, 2014 –– A screening of the documentary, “12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldón Story” kicked off Black History Month at Pilgrim School in Los Angeles. Carmen Wolf has organized a whole month of activities to teach the kids at her son’s school about some of their overlooked heritage as Americans.
During Pilgrim School BHM Assembly during the Q&A after the screening of 12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldón Story: Carmen Wolf (standing far left), parent organizer of the BHM programming; Alison Rose Jefferson (standing); Richard Yelland; Remy Smith; Marcus Chatman; and the kids of Pilgrim School! Photography by Wesley Michael Groves. (Click to enlarge)
Following the film was a Q&A with filmmaker Richard Yelland, joined by featured historian Alison Rose Jefferson and Los Angeles County Lifeguard Captain and surfer Remy Smith. LA County Sheriff and surfer Marcus Chatman, who is also a lifeguard and aquatics educator, joined the conversation with the kids. This event was for secondary students, parents, staff and faculty. Wesley Michael Groves, a newbie surfer and parent of children at Pilgrim and other parents were in the house.
See the flier (below) for the other cool programs, Carmen arranged for the kids. Please share with your friends who have children attending Pilgrim School (Wilshire Center, Los Angeles, 90020).
(Click to enlarge)
Posted in Events, History, Intangible Heritage, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged beach, february 2014, film, inkwell, nick gabaldon, remy smith, richard yelland, santa monica, santa monica beach, screenings | Leave a Comment »
I was honored to be a leader in the first ever tour programming in Southern California sponsored by The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Participants explored and discovered two-dozen historical landscapes in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Santa Monica through a series of FREE expert-led tours highlighting the region’s remarkable landscape legacy.
On Sunday, October 27 from 1.00- to 2.30pm I lead a tour entitled Ocean Park Neighborhood Beach: Race, Real and Remembrance. To learn more about my tour click here.
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Posted in heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach, Uncategorized | Tagged beach, february 2014, inkwell, nick gabaldon, santa monica, santa monica beach, the cultural landscape foundation | Leave a Comment »
The surf image of Los Angeles County Lifeguard and Aquatics Educator Marcus Chatman at El Portal/Manhattan Beach used on this program announcement is featured in the “tower of images” near the end of the new “Becoming Los Angeles” exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County at Exposition Park. (Click to enlarge)
Members of the Black Surfer Collective (BSC) and their compatriots were featured guest speakers and instructors in segments of the Claremont University Consortium (CUC)/Office of Black Student Affairs’ (OBSA) sponsored 2013 New Student Retreat taking place Friday, September 13 thru Sunday, September 15, 2013 in Claremont, Malibu and Santa Monica, California. The programming consisted of a series of activities to support the wellbeing of incoming students of African American descent in their pursuit to earn degrees at the Claremont Colleges.
OBSA administrators selected the retreat’s text for workshops of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom. A Southern California surf image featuring Los Angeles County Lifeguard and Aquatics Educator Marcus Chatman at El Portal in Manhattan Beach was selected as the visual imagery branding the retreat marketing and other materials. These two texts are obviously different, but both engage imagery of freedom, resilience, achievement, identity, strength and bravery in a global context. The weekend programming consisted of expert and peer speakers, historically and culturally relevant curriculum workshops, and activities to aid initiation of the new college students on a path of excellence, career development, personal success, and college connections. Surfing lessons and serious fun were also on the students’ schedule.
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Posted in Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach, White Wash | Tagged black surfer collective, claremont university consortium, february 2014, heal the bay, inkwell, new student retreat, pomona college, remy smith, santa monica, santa monica beach, screenings, white wash | Leave a Comment »
Looking down the hill towards the beach at Bay Street on Coastal Cleanup Day 2013 at some of the cultural exhibits, volunteers’ registration area, and the “Inkwell” landmark monument just before the almost 700 people show up for a day of education and community action. Saturday, September 21, 2013, Santa Monica, California. Photograph courtesy of Heal the Bay. (Click to enlarge)
The Santa Monica site derogatorily called the “Inkwell” was a popular beach hangout for African Americans from the 1920s to the early 1960s, where they challenged racial hierarchies to enjoy beach public space at the core of California’s mid-twentieth century identity. [View historic site description]
On Coastal Cleanup Day 2013, Saturday, September 21 (CCD 2013) close to 700 people of all ages showed up with good energy for their task of community service to help cleanup the beach. From docents and small exhibits, the day’s volunteers learned about watershed stewardship, sea life and the social history of the Jim Crow era, African American beach site derogatorily called the “Inkwell.”
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Posted in Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged california coastal cleanup, coastal cleanup day, february 2014, heal the bay, inkwell, labue, los angeles black underwater explorers, santa monica, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy | Leave a Comment »
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Wonderful day you and [all] planned. My daughter Asha has repeated the Nick story over and over to friends and family.
Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor
Santa Monica, California, Email/6 June 2013
Heard about you guys on NPR. Shout out from Jacksonville, Florida!
Comments on the Black Surfers Collective Facebook page/3 June 2013
We had a delightful day with several hundred appreciative people visiting the place sometimes referred to as the “Inkwell,” the gathering place of African Americans during the nation’s Jim Crow era of racial restrictions on many areas of life, even on some recreational public space. The day of celebration around the pioneering African American and Mexican surfer Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951) and others that have come before us, included many youth, and a few adults, from the Los Angeles County region learning to stand on surfboards for the first time. All attending learned about local history, ocean stewardship and marine biology.
I and the other members of this year’s Nick Gabaldón Day organizing team are especially appreciative that Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and his staff joined us to support this educational and recreational programming of the Black Surfers Collective (BSC) and Heal the Bay.
Thanks to all the other groups who supported the programming: Surf Bus Foundation, the Santa Monica Conservancy, Clif Bar, BlackSurfing.com, the California Historical Society, the Sierra Club Outdoors, Rusty’s on Santa Monica Pier, the LA County Lifeguards, CYA in California, Santa Monica Co-op, Dan Cobley from DANC Surfboards and Jeffrey Sudzin from Om Surfboards.
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Posted in Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach, White Wash | Tagged african americans, black surfers collective, california historical society, inkwell, june 2013, mark ridley-thomas, nick gabaldon, richard wyatt, santa monica, santa monica beach, santa monica conservancy, santa monica pier aquarium, screenings, white wash | Leave a Comment »
Nick Gabaldón Day 2013 celebration at the historical African American beach site, “the Inkwell” in Santa Monica, California. Photography by Marie Rachal from the Black Surfers Collective FACEBOOK page.
Check out my commentary on Heal the Bay’s, Around the Bay Blog – “Reclaiming L.A.’s Beaches as Communities of Color.” Here I discuss the layered cultural complexities and significance of surfer Nick Gabaldón and the Jim Crow era, African American Bay Street/Inkwell site in Santa Monica, California to the public processes of historic preservation, nature conservancy and environmental justice movements. I look forward to hearing any thoughts you might have on my commentary.
Posted in Events, heritage conservation, historic preservation, History, Inkwell, Intangible Heritage, Nick Gabaldon, Santa Monica Beach | Tagged beach, black surfers collective, environmental justice, heal the bay, inkwell, june 2013, nick gabaldon, santa monica, santa monica beach | Leave a Comment »
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