Black Surfers Collective and other groups will offer a day of activities (see flyer here) and free surf lessons (sign in sheet here) for the young and old (please bring signed release of liability waiver here) to commemorate the life of Nick Gabaldon (1927 – 1951), the first documented surfer of African-American and Mexican descent, and the heritage of the historical African American beach site, sometimes formerly called the “Inkwell”. Gabaldon’s legacy has inspired many surfers of color and otherwise to consider him as a role model. His passion, athleticism and love for the ocean live on as the quintessential qualities of the California surfer.The Bay Street/Inkwell site was a popular beach hangout for African Americans during the nation’s Jim Crow era, from the 1900s to 1960s. Gabaldon had his first experiences with the ocean at the Inkwell. In 2008 the City of Santa Monica officially recognized the “Inkwell” and Gabaldon for their cultural significance in local, California and American history.
To learn more about him, check out the newly published encyclopedia entry by Alison Rose Jefferson and Rick Blocker entitled “Nick Gabaldon (1927 – 1951)” or watch the trailer for documentary film “12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldon Story.”
Santa Monica Pier (south side)
- 9 a.m. – Welcoming Ceremony and Memorial Paddle Out in honor of Nick Gabaldon
- 10 a.m.-1 p.m. – Free surf sessons provided by Black Surfers Collective and the Surf Bus Foundation (Surf lessons must be reserved in advance). Bring a blanket and learn about this historical beach. Arrive ready to explore this sandy habitat.
- 12:30 p.m. Beach reception with L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
- 1 p.m. The celebration moves to Heal the Bay’s Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier. Admission is free.
- 1:45 p.m. Documentary screening of 12 Miles North about Nick‘s life.
- 2:30 p.m. Children’s Story Time with special guest reader
- 2:45 p.m. Screening White Wash. A documentary exploring the complexity of race in America through the eyes of the ocean.
- 4:15 p.m. 12 Miles North documentary screening
Update: Rusty’s Surf Ranch in Santa Monica will provide a 10% discount on food and beverage for the day to anyone who mentions Nick Gabaldon Day, the Black Surfers Collective, or Heal the Bay from opening (11 a.m.) to sundown. Also enjoy their Nick Gabaldon Day drink special!