For years, the Ink Well was the only beach in Santa Monica where people of color were allowed to gather, swim and surf. The 200-foot stretch beach was roped off for decades, as different races were not allowed to mix. California prides itself on liberal and progressive thought, but segregation was a common practice before the Civil Rights Movement. (A previous post has more details about the Ink Well and Nick Gabaldon, the great African American surfer who died in 1951.)
Thanks to the efforts of Rhonda Harper, this plaque ensures that we won't forget the less flattering parts of L.A. history. Those are the bits that teach us the most, after all, and show us that progress has been made.
This picture (another from the online collection of the Los Angeles Public Library) was taken in 1924. The cuddlers are Verna Williams and Arthur Lewis. Verna entered beauty pageants in the 20s, and the library has several pictures of her--one with her son, Arthur Lewis Jr., in the 1950s.