Inkwell Beach: California’s Hangout Location for Blacks in the Early 1900s

Written by Jae Jones

During the early 1900s in Santa Monica, , a two-block area of Pacific oceanfront became a hangout location for African Americans. Families and young people could gather without having to worry about being discriminated against because of their skin color. As many people frequented the beach, the Anglo community degraded the area by calling it the “Inkwell”. Nevertheless, that did not stop the community; they actually took the name as a badge of honor.

There were laws that had been put in place in California since the 1890s. However, white people often did not acknowledge them, and made life miserable for African Americans if they tried to hangout at a public beach. By the mid-1920s, exclusive beach clubs began to open near the foot of Pico Boulevard, pushing the site south towards Bay and Bicknell Streets. Slowly, little parts of the beach began to disappear as the beach clubs kept pushing down the beach. However, the black community’s presence continued at the Ocean Park neighborhood beach, which was a safe haven from discrimination and harassment. By the 1960s, social and legal barriers put an end to the leisure activity for African Americans.

In 2008, the City of Santa Monica created a monument at Bay Street and Oceanfront Walk to officially recognize the historic significance of the area and the early African American community. This included the first documented surfer of African and Mexican American descent, Nick Gabaldón.



The Significance of the “Inkwell” in Jim Crow Southern California: Santa Monica Tour Oct. 27, 2013

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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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