Black Surfers Made the Claremont Colleges New Student Retreat 2013-14 A Standout Success!
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)

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.

A screening of the documentary film, “White Wash” kicked off the weekend at CUC’s Pomona College’s Rose Theater sponsored by their Outdoor Education Center and OBSA on Friday, September 13. Before a spirited question and answer session following the film screening, BSC members Dedon Kamathi and Andrea Kabwasa joined Filmmaker Ted Woods, and Historian and Pomona College Alumnae Alison Rose Jefferson at dinner with students. At both the evening’s program segments, students and a few faculty members probed some ideas in the documentary around breaking racial and gender barriers to explore new human experiences and new identities, as well as the overlooked history highlighted in the film. At dinner, student questions also explored with the speakers their varied lives, educational backgrounds and career paths.

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Surf Academy instructors set up the surfboards and wet suits for the Claremont Colleges’ students to pick up who took their first surf lessons at Santa Monica’s Bay Street beach, the historical Jim Crow era, African American oceanfront social space. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Moving on to Santa Monica’s Bay Street beach on Sunday, September 15, surf lessons were led by BSC’s William Lamar and Surf Bus Academy’s (SBA) Moshir Safavi. Los Angeles County Lifeguard Captain Remy Smith, Harden Carter and David Iniquez, all BSC members, joined other SBA team members to round out the instructor list. The majority of the 15 or so young people that took surfing lessons on September 15 were female with only two male partakers. William Lamar noted the female students “were the most fearless and athletic young girls he ever taught. The whole group was very brave. It was a big day for beginners.”

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Check out the young women of the Claremont Colleges in their wetsuits getting ready to wave ride for the first time at Santa Monica’s Bay Street beach. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Remy Smith was amazed at what “incredibly fast learners” the students turned out to be. He, the other instructors and those of the group not in the water witnessed many of their fellow students standing up and surfing during their first exposure to the sport! Remy gushed, “I was ecstatic I had the opportunity to work with our young adults at the beach.”

Sam Hamilton, a Volunteer for Heal the Bay hangs out before he assists Meredith McCarty (Director of Programs) with a marine life and coastal habitat talk with the Claremont Colleges’ students. In the background under the Black Surfers Collective pop tent, Surf Instructor Harden Carter (left, background) and students are checking out the "Hidden Beach Stories & the California Dream: African Americans, Beach Culture, Santa Monica and the American Narrative" history exhibit curated by Historian and Pomona College Alumnae Alison Rose Jefferson. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Sam Hamilton, a Volunteer for Heal the Bay hangs out before he assists Meredith McCarty (Director of Programs) with a marine life and coastal habitat talk with the Claremont Colleges’ students. In the background under the Black Surfers Collective pop tent, Surf Instructor Harden Carter (left, background) and students are checking out the “Hidden Beach Stories & the California Dream: African Americans, Beach Culture, Santa Monica and the American Narrative” history exhibit curated by Historian and Pomona College Alumnae Alison Rose Jefferson. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

The young people listened with great interest as Historian/Pomona College Alumnae Alison Rose Jefferson gave a talk about the Jim Crow era, historical African American beach site, its landmark at Bay Street and the timeline of black surf culture over the last 60 years. The students as well as passersby on the beach peered intently at the banner exhibit of text and historical photographs entitled “HIdden Beach Stories & the California Dream: African Americans, Beach Culture, Santa Monica & the American Narrative” set up by Jefferson under the BSC pop tent on the beach near Lifeguard Tower 20.

With the Pacific Ocean and Lifeguard Tower 20 in the background, Claremont Colleges’ students check out the "Hidden Beach Stories & the California Dream: African Americans, Beach Culture, Santa Monica and the American Narrative" history exhibit curated by Historian and Pomona College Alumnae Alison Rose Jefferson. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

With the Pacific Ocean and Lifeguard Tower 20 in the background, Claremont Colleges’ students check out the “Hidden Beach Stories & the California Dream: African Americans, Beach Culture, Santa Monica and the American Narrative” history exhibit curated by Historian and Pomona College Alumnae Alison Rose Jefferson. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Some of the students were not aware there was a Jim Crow era beach site in Los Angeles County derogatorily named the “Inkwell” by nearby Anglo Americans in reference to the skin color of the beachgoers. Nor did they realize there had been quite a number of other beaches across the U.S. with this name as well, or that African Americans in Southern California, like their counterparts elsewhere, transformed the hateful moniker into a badge of pride. The students appreciated learning that in spite of the real estate development around this site, African Americans persisted in their use of this beach as a group social space until the end of the Jim Crow era in the 1960s.

Pomona College Alumnae and Historian Alison Rose Jefferson introduces Surf Instructor William Lamar to the Claremont Colleges’ students. William has been surfing for more than 25 years, and has taught many people to surf during that time. He was instrumental in facilitating Nike’s production of the 2012 documentary film about the first documented surfer of African American and Mexican descent called, “12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldón Story” directed by Richard Yelland. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Pomona College Alumnae and Historian Alison Rose Jefferson introduces Surf Instructor William Lamar to the Claremont Colleges’ students. William has been surfing for more than 25 years, and has taught many people to surf during that time. He was instrumental in facilitating Nike’s production of the 2012 documentary film about the first documented surfer of African American and Mexican descent called, “12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldón Story” directed by Richard Yelland. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Heal the Bay’s Director of Programs Meredith McCarthy and Volunteer Sam Hamilton explored the shoreline marine life with the students. Meredith’s pre-school age son acted as his “Mama’s helper.” He added tremendous enthusiasm and delight that was infectious to all, as everyone dug up and sifted sand to look at the life below the surf in the sand. Found, examined and discussed, below and above the shoreline terrain were worms, sand crabs and bean clams, along with various types of seaweed plants and other marine life.

Surf Instructor Mattie of Surf Bus Academy begins the safety talk and surf lessons on the sand with Claremont Colleges’ students. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Surf Instructor Mattie of Surf Bus Academy begins the safety talk and surf lessons on the sand with Claremont Colleges’ students. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

While we were all on the sand, Jon Gary, an administrative leader of the CUC/OBSA retreat noted that the beach trip experiences provided by the guest experts at the Bay Street/Inkwell beach site were top highlights with the students for the whole, 2013 New Student Retreat weekend. BSC members got involved in the weekend programming as a result Martin Crawford, Director of Pomona College’s Outdoor Education Center asking Pomona College Alumnae and Historian Alison Rose Jefferson to coordinate a beach program around her work. With Acting Assistant Dean Kim Gadlin of the Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs, and Martin Crawford, Alison coordinated the “White Wash” film screening and Santa Monica beach program segments to expose incoming students to broader learning experiences around local history, surfing and ways to have enjoyable Southern California outdoor experiences, ocean stewardship, and possible career options.

Learning, fellowship, networking and fun were had by all who participated in the weekend retreat, whether as a student, expert instructor or administrator!

With surf instructors looking on Claremont Colleges’ students learn the paddle position and other moves lying on a surfboard to get into position to catch a wave. Claremont University Consortium /Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

With surf instructors looking on Claremont Colleges’ students learn the paddle position and other moves lying on a surfboard to get into position to catch a wave. Claremont University Consortium /Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Claremont Colleges’ students and surfboards on their way with their instructors into the Pacific Ocean on a warm day with good wave conditions for learning to surf. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Claremont Colleges’ students and surfboards on their way with their instructors into the Pacific Ocean on a warm day with good wave conditions for learning to surf. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Check it out, a new female surfer caught a wave! Surf Instructor and LA County Lifeguard Captain Remy Smith was amazed at what “incredibly fast learners” the Claremont Colleges’ students turned out to be. He, the other instructors and those of the group not in the water witnessed many of their fellow students standing up and surfing during their first exposure to the sport! Remy gushed, “I was ecstatic I had the opportunity to work with our young adults at the beach.” Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Check it out, a new female surfer caught a wave! Surf Instructor and LA County Lifeguard Captain Remy Smith was amazed at what “incredibly fast learners” the Claremont Colleges’ students turned out to be. He, the other instructors and those of the group not in the water witnessed many of their fellow students standing up and surfing during their first exposure to the sport! Remy gushed, “I was ecstatic I had the opportunity to work with our young adults at the beach.” Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Surf Instructor William Lamar noted the female Claremont Colleges’ students “were the most fearless and athletic young girls he ever taught. The whole group was very brave. It was a big day for beginners.” Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Surf Instructor William Lamar noted the female Claremont Colleges’ students “were the most fearless and athletic young girls he ever taught. The whole group was very brave. It was a big day for beginners.” Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Claremont Colleges’ student and Surf Instructor Mattie make their way to shore after both a veteran and newbie surfer had a chance to ride a few waves. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Claremont Colleges’ student and Surf Instructor Mattie make their way to shore after both a veteran and newbie surfer had a chance to ride a few waves. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Claremont Colleges’ students learning to surf at Santa Monica’s Bay Street beach, the historical Jim Crow era, African American oceanfront social space. Young woman seated on yellow surfboard as shoreline (above photo) and young man carrying a blue surfboard (below photo on next page) -- satisfied surf newbies. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

Claremont Colleges’ students learning to surf at Santa Monica’s Bay Street beach, the historical Jim Crow era, African American oceanfront social space. Young woman seated on yellow surfboard as shoreline (above photo) and young man carrying a blue surfboard (below photo on next page) — satisfied surf newbies. Claremont University Consortium/Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

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After a brief, but satisfying time at the beach, Claremont Colleges’ students, pack up, head out for lunch and to return to campus. Claremont University Consortium /Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

After a brief, but satisfying time at the beach, Claremont Colleges’ students, pack up, head out for lunch and to return to campus. Claremont University Consortium /Office of Black Student Affairs Incoming Student Retreat, September 15, 2013, Santa Monica, California, photo by Travis Brown. (Click to enlarge)

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