Thursday, 25 June 2020

Nick Gabaldon. Surfing against Segregation.

"Race wasn't really an issue at Malibu. Everyone liked him. And he was a pretty smooth surfer, too."
Rick Grigg (a teenager who surfed with Gabaldon)

Nick Gabaldon (1927-1951) was the first documented black US-American surfer. He learned to surf at the Inkwell in Santa Monica which was a tiny (about 60 meters), roped-off, segregated beach designated for the black community at the time. Gabaldon paddled many miles to Malibu, "one of California's best waves" since he had no car and surfed on a borrowed lifeguard's paddleboard (via and via and via).
According to most reports, on June 5, 1951, Nick Gabaldon caught his last wave. During an eight-foot south swell, Gabaldon lost control of his board and struck a piling beneath the Malibu Pier. His board washed up on the beach shortly after. Three days later, lifeguards recovered his body, and the small community of (white) surfers who had come to accept and respect Nick mourned. (...)
For Nick, surfing was a vehicle to improve his world. The ocean was his medium, which is fitting because the sea knows no prejudice; it’s the ultimate equalizer. As is a basketball court. Or a soccer pitch. Or a football field. Or, especially, a great story. (via)
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image via


  1. Many thanks for sharing his story.

  2. So true: >>When told correctly, stories have the power to inspire, challenge and organize ideas in an otherwise puzzling world.<< Stephan Link

  3. Thanks for dropping by and leaving comments!