Thousands Clean Up California’s Coast


Verna Williams and Arthur Lewis at the segregated black beach site in Santa Monica, CA 1924.

On Saturday, thousands of Southern California residents cleaned up 60 beaches in Los Angeles County from Long Beach up to Malibu and inland to the L.A. River Confluence. Last year, 62,668 volunteers joined together to remove nearly 900,000 pounds of trash and recyclable waste from more than 1,500 miles of land—making it the largest volunteer garbage collection day on the planet according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The cleanup began in 1986. Coordinated by Heal the Bay, the event is now a central part of the environmental organization’s mission to restore local beaches and harbors.

This year, volunteers gathered at the Santa Monica beach site controversially known as “the Inkwell” at Bay Street. The beach was once a popular hangout for African Americans from the 1920s to the early 1960s, when other locations were off limits to blacks. This beach was the home beach to Nick Gabaldon, the first documented local surfer of African-American and Mexican descent. A plaque commemorating the beach spot reads, “A Place of Celebration and Pain,” a reminder that it was once an important gathering place for African Americans when discriminatory practices forbid them from enjoying other public beaches.

This seaside refuge was located down the hill from nearby Phillips Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the first African-American church established in Santa Monica in 1905. Today, the area abuts some of the area’s swankiest hotels, Shutters Hotel and the Casa del Mar are located and stretches south to Bicknell Street.

“The ocean is a universal symbol of hope for the future,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman, Mark Ridley-Thomas. “And this event seeks to honor our beaches of yesterday by cleaning up today.”

Click here for more information on this Saturday’s cleanup and to volunteer.