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Historical African American gathering place at Santa Monica Beach
Alternative Title
Shades of L.A. Photo Collection
Shades of L.A. is an archive of photographs representing the contemporary and historic diversity of families in Los Angeles. Images were chosen from family albums and include daily life, social organizations, work, personal and holiday celebrations, and migration and immigration activities. Made possible and accessible through the generous support of the Security Pacific National Bank, Sunlaw Cogeneration Partners, Photo Friends, California Council for the Humanities, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation
Date Created and/or Issued
Circa 1925
Contributing Institution
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Rights Information
Images available for reproduction and educational use. Please see the Ordering & Use page at for additional information.
The contents of this collection are restricted to personal, research, and non-commercial use. The Library cannot share the personal and/or contact information of the donors, their descendants, or associates who contributed photographs and oral histories to the collection.
Title supplied by cataloger.; Image is a reproduction.; Published on page 92 of Shades of L.A. New York : The New Press, c1996.
Discrimination towards African Americans, other communities of color and marginalized groups occurred at some beaches and swimming pools in Southern California during the first half of the twentieth century. In this era, at swimming pools varied local ordinances and private practices at different times and manner of implementation inhibited these groups swimming until these ordinances were challenged and repealed, and private discriminatory actions were fought from the 1930s to 1950s.
A group at a breakwater near a sign where the word “Prohibited” is partially visible at a beach area in the environs of Santa Monica and Venice shoreline, possible near the historical African American, preferred beach gathering place from 1920s–1960s around Bay Street. This sign most likely read: Walking, Swimming or Fishing Prohibited. This beach was sometimes called “the Inkwell.” The term, first used by whites, was a derogatory reference to the skin color of the black beachgoers. Some African Americans reclaimed the term, re-purposing it as an emblem of pride, while others never called the beach by this name. California civil rights laws instituted from the 1890s to 1920s permitted access for all to public beaches. In the first organized action of civil disobedience by the Los Angeles Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), they won the fight to prevent civil rights laws evasion and clarification of African Americans’ right to use the shoreline at Manhattan Beach in 1927. This accomplishment contributed to racial restrictions attempts at Southern California public beaches fading away in the forthcoming decades.
1 photographic print :b&w ;16 x 24 cm.
Photographic prints
Shades of L.A. Collection; Shades of L.A.: African American Community
S-000-374 120
Beachgoers--California--Santa Monica
Beaches--California--Santa Monica
Segregation--United States
Discrimination in public accommodations--United States
Signs and signboards--California--Santa Monica
Inkwell (Santa Monica, Calif.)
Santa Monica (Calif.)
Shades of L.A. Collection photographs
Portrait photographs
Group portraits
Shades of L.A. African American photographs
Time Period
Troy, Mabel.

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