In the early 1900’s, visitors passing through Santa Monica could experience the vibrancy, food and sounds of many cultures; including Latino, Asian and African American. The Black community, in particular, contributed to the heart of Santa Monica with their established businesses, owned homes, and renowned musicians who played their trumpets and saxophones at places like the Del Mar Beach Club. Typical Sundays for black families included attending the Church of Christ and then playing by the water at the black beach also known as the Ink Well; a name that was given to a section of the beach where black people would gather. One would even see Black police officers taking care and overseeing the black community in Santa Monica. Before 1957 black energy was seen throughout the city, especially when driving through (4th Street to Ocean Avenue).
As the I-10 freeway was being established and created in the 1940s-1950s, men in suits started to knock on the doors of primarily black-owned homes with suitcases filled with cash. These men began to make offers to the homeowners that were later discovered to undervalue the properties. The persuasive offers pushed many black homeowners out of the city and into communities east of Santa Monica. This created a ripple effect where black people began to disperse and not have a sense of community within Santa Monica. The good weathered beach city we see now is one that is not as rich in diversity as it once was not too long ago.
We as the Santa Monica Black Lives Association believe that awareness is the first step to healing and change. The Black History within Santa Monica is important for us to honor and remember.