A monument marking a section of beach near Bay Street that was once the site of Santa Monica’s only slice of sand available to African Americans will be unveiled Thursday, February 7th, in front of the Castle del Mar Hotel at 11 a.m.
The spot, once referred to as “Ink Well Beach,” was said to be the only stretch of beach where African Americans from Santa Monica and Venice felt comfortable, even after racial restrictions had been eliminated from California’s beaches.
It was on this small slice of beach that Nicholas Gabalon, recognized as the first documented African American surfer, taught himself to surf.
Rhonda Harper, an African-American surfer and the chief executive officer of Inkwell Surf, a surf and clothing company, drew the Santa Monica City Council’s attention to the historic site.
The Southern California Black Surfing Association, the Santa Monica Conservancy and other community organizations consulted with Harper and city staff members to develop language for commemorating the historical importance of the site.
Gabalon, a graduate of Santa Monica High School, returned to Ink Well Beach to perfect his surfing skills following a stint in World War II. He later began surfing farther north at Surfrider Beach in Malibu.
The monument was placed along the bicycle and pedestrian path at the end of Bay Street to make the public aware of the significant history of this portion of the beach.