Black History in Santa Monica; additional resources for the Belmar History + Art project

September 1, 2022 3:36 p.m.

by Naomi Okuyama

Belmar History + Art (BH+A) is a public art and civic commemoration project that illuminates the history of African American residents and business owners of historic Belmar and surrounding Santa Monica neighborhoods. Once a thriving community, this area was razed by eminent domain in the 1950s, and residents were relocated to make way for construction of the Civic Center campus. The BH+A project incorporated elements of art, community, and history to creatively and collectively celebrate the past and future legacy of African American contributions to Santa Monica life. See photos and videos from the Belmar History + Art project documenting community engagement, the permanent exhibit, behind the scenes and more at publicartarchive.org/belmar.

For further exploration, we’ve put together some links to third-party websites that feature projects around black history in Santa Monica.*

Belmar History + Art project historian Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson wrote an essay, Reconstruction and Reclamation; The Erased African-American Experience in Santa Monica History, Which Informed the Creation of the Permanent Exhibit at Belmar Historical Park: alisonrosejefferson.com

The 18th Street Arts Center’s Culture Mapping Project 90404 maintains a collection of “cultural assets,” places created by community members that define neighborhood culture. They also created a web portal for black history resources in Santa Monica. culturemapping90404.org/blackhistoryportal

We Gather is produced by Orchestra Santa Monica and features stories, photographs and works by local artists, illustrating the past and current experiences of the black community in Santa Monica: vimeo.com

Drawing on the wealth of archival material collected by the Quinn Research Center, the Santa Monica Museum of History exhibit, Broadway to Freeway: Life and Times of a Vibrant Community, features vintage photographs, advertisements, oral histories and songs. The exhibit tells the story of the thriving community of color centered around Broadway and how it was displaced by the construction of the Interstate 10 freeway in the 1960s. santamonicahistory.org

*Please note that links to third-party websites on this City of Santa Monica website are provided solely for your convenience. These third party websites are operated by third parties and are not under the control of the City. The City is not responsible for the content of any third party website or any link contained in a third party website. We do not review, endorse, monitor, endorse, warrant or make any representations about any third-party websites and the inclusion of any links to third-party websites on this site does not imply affiliation, sponsorship, approval, approval, investigation, verification or monitoring by the City of any information contained in any third party website. Access to any third party website is at your own risk.

Written by

Naomi Okuyama
Cultural Affairs Supervisor

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