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October 18 – Wade in the Water: A Journey into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture

Wade in the Water: A Journey Into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture

A documentary by David Mesfin
Film screening and Q&A

Doors open at 6pm – Wednesday, October 18
$10 general admission • $5 current CSM members
Seating is limited. Call 760-721-6876 to buy your ticket in advance to reserve your seat.

Wade in the Water: A Journey into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture (2023) reclaims the 1,000-year-old tradition of Black surfing. Piloted by historical experts and community leaders in the BIPOC surfing movement and braiding historical accounts, footage, and recreations, modern-day testimonials, live-action shots, and interviews, the film dismantles the racial barriers of conventional surf culture, delves into the overlooked history of Black surfing’s legacy, and honors its current movement — inspiring the next generation of Black surfers.

Guided by compelling voiceover narration, the journey begins with Prof. Kevin Dawson from UC Merced as he chronicles the evolution of aquatic African culture, from the first written account of surfing in the 1640s to its place in the context of 1800s America.

Flowing into the 1900s, historian and heritage conservationist Alison Rose Jefferson, M.H.C. | Ph.D., honors the lives, legacies, and struggles of Santa Monica’s pioneering African American surfers; thoroughly recounting their clashes against Jim Crow laws that legalized and enforced racial segregation.

What follows are extensive introductions to and insights from contemporary Black surfing legends, icons, and community leaders, as they discuss the generations responsible for cultivating Black surfing’s traditions and spiritual principles. These individuals are currently spearheading programs that are establishing equitable access to surfing in BIPOC communities, women’s surf clubs, and public policies that promote environmental stewardship and protection.


  • Sharon Schaffer, First Black female professional surfer
  • Selema Masekela, American television host, sports commentator, actor, singer, surfer
  • Tony Corley, Founder of Black Surfing Association (est. 1975)
  • Rick Blocker, Black surfing advocate
  • Greg Rachel, Co-Founder of Black Surfers Collective
  • Vicky Williams, Surfer who shared waves with Nicolás Rolando Gabaldón: Nick was the first documented Black and Latino surfer in Southern California.

David Mesfin – Director, Writer, and Producer – was born in Ethiopia and migrated to the United States at an early age. Growing up in St. Augustine, Florida, he was immersed in a vibrant local surf culture that conceived his passion for the ocean and nature.

After moving to the West Coast to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication and Advertising from California State University, Long Beach, David connected with a community of Black surfers that introduced him to the historical context of surfing in Africa.

These formative experiences, which connect his lifelong passion and ancestral roots, spawned the creative inspiration and community-based collaborations that have bloomed into Wade in the Water.