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Groups to celebrate Black surf culture in Los Angeles


SANTA MONICA, Calif.–Heal the Bay, the Black Surfers Collective, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ office, the Santa Monica Conservancy and other groups will celebrate Southern California’s multicultural ocean heritage by honoring the life of Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951), on Saturday, June 1.

The day’s events will include free surf lessons and beach activities for all ages.

Nick Gabaldón Day will also bring to life the historic African American beach site at Bay Street–known as the “Inkwell” during the Jim Crow era. Gabaldón, Los Angeles’ first documented surfer of African American and Mexican descent, frequented the Santa Monica beach.

“Nick Gabaldón’s story is not one of just a surfer,” said Ridley-Thomas, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “It is about a man who refused to be held back by limitations imposed on him. He was determined to live his life to the fullest and paved the way for generations of young people to follow in his footsteps.”

Activities will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday with an ocean-blessing ceremony, a memorial paddle-out in Gabaldón’s honor at the Bay Street/Inkwell site (south of Santa Monica Pier, at the intersection of Bay Street and Ocean Front Walk) with the Los Angeles County Lifeguards and surf lessons from the Black Surfers Collective and Surf Bus Foundation. In addition, local historians will highlight the beach’s historical and cultural significance.