On Saturday, September 23, Santa Monica Community College and thousands of Californians will take part in “Coastal Cleanup Day.” A coalition of Santa Monica Community College student organizations have brought extra meaning to the day as they focus their efforts on “The Inkwell,” a small section of the beach between Bay Street and Ocean Boulevard that was roped off for black beachgoers in the still segregated 1940’s where legendary surfer Nick Gabaldón learned and practiced his surfing.

Gabaldón was one of a few dozen black students at both Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica Community College, with a stint as a soldier in WW II in between. He lived only 27 years, dying after a fatal injury caused when he crashed into the Malibu Pier while attempting a surfing move known as a “pier ride” or “shooting the pier.” Gabaldón is seen as a civil rights hero in the surfing and Santa Monica Community, which regularly celebrates Nick Gabaldón Day in June.

SMC invites the community to help them cleanup the Inkwell at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Santa Monica Beach Tower 20 (Pico Blvd. and Bay St., Santa Monica).

SMC’s Black Collegians, Adelante Club, and other organizations are partnering with the Black Surfers Collective and the Black Historians to help. Gloves, buckets, and safety training will be provided. Sunscreen, a hat, mask, and a reusable water bottle are strongly recommended for volunteers.

As Gabaldón himself didn’t have a vehicle, he was known to hitchhike or even swim with his surfboard the 12 miles to another favorite surfing spot in Malibu, 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 St.and Bicknell St.

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