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Coastal Clean Up Day This Month at Former 'Inkwell' Beach
By Lookout Staff
September 12, 2023 -- Santa Monica College (SMC) is inviting volunteers to take part in Coastal Cleanup Day this month at a once-segregated stretch of beach frequented by a legendary Black surfer.
Part of the world’s largest volunteer day, Coastal Cleanup Day will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 23 at Santa Monica Beach Tower 20 at Pico Boulevard and Bay Street.
Born on February 23, 1927 in Los Angeles, Gabaldón, who was of Black and Mexican descent, lived most of his life in Santa Monica, where as a Samohi student he learned to surf at Inkwell beach as a teenager.
Always looking for the best wave, Gabaldón would paddle 12 miles to Malibu, where he became part of a tight brotherhood of surfers, according to the film "12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldón Story."
He died on June 6, 1951 when he slammed into the Malibu Pier after riding a strong south swell estimated by witnesses to be 10 feet high.
His surfboard was found immediately, but his body washed ashore on Las Flores Beach a few days later and is now buried at Santa Monica’s Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.
According to a The beach near this site between Bay and Bicknell Streets, known by some as the Ink Well, was an important gathering place for African-Americans long after racial restrictions on public beaches were abandoned in 1927.
According to a commemorative plaque erected at the site by the City in 2018 states that "The Ink Well" was "an important gathering place for African-Americans long after racial restrictions on public beaches were abandoned in 1927.
“African-American groups from Santa Monica, Venice and Los Angeles, as early as the 1920s to the end of the Jim Crow era in the 1950s, preferred to enjoy the sun and surf here because they encountered less racial harassment than at other Southland beaches."
During Clean Up Day, gloves, buckets and safety training will be provided. Sunscreen, a hat, mask and a reusable water bottle are strongly recommended.
Volunteers are encouraged to bike, walk, or bus to the beach if possible. If they must drive, they can request parking passes at the parking lot entrance between Bay Street and Bicknell Street.
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