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.
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.
The Black Surfers Collective, Heal the Bay, Surf Bus Foundation, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky were the lead partners the event production. Groups supporting the programming included: the Santa Monica Conservancy, the LA County Lifeguards, Santa Monica Co-op, L.A. Black Underwater Explorers, Body Glove and the Association for Surfing Professionals.