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

September 1, 2022 3:36 PM
by Naomi Okuyama

Updated August 22, 2023

Belmar History + Art (BH+A) is a public art and civic commemoration project that illuminates histories of the African American residents and business owners of, and visitors to, the historic Belmar and surrounding neighborhoods in Santa Monica. Once a thriving community, this area was razed through eminent domain in the 1950s, and residents were displaced 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. Explore photos and video from the Belmar History + Art project documenting community engagement, the permanent exhibit, behind-the-scenes and more at

For further exploration, we have assembled a few 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’s History, that informed the creation of the permanent exhibit at Historic Belmar Park: Dr. Jefferson’s research also informed this set of lesson plans developed by k-12 school teachers at the History-Geography project at UCLA.

Belmar History + Art project artist April Banks partnered with artist Susu Attar to create this Activity Booklet to encourage creative responses to the site and project. This was based on a youth worldbuilding and Zine creation workshop she presented at Santa Monica High School in conjunction with Attar and poet Natalie Patterson.

On a more somber note, in January 2023 the City released a statement of apology to Black Santa Monicans and their descendants. Read more here.

18th Street Arts Center’s project Culture Mapping 90404 maintains a collection of “cultural assets,” community member-sourced places that define the culture of the neighborhood. They’ve also established a web portal for Black History resources in Santa Monica. 

The Santa Monica History Museum’s partnership with the Quinn Research Center features changing exhibits on Black Santa Monica history. 

We Gather is a film produced by Orchestra Santa Monica and features original music, stories, images, and local artists’ artwork, illustrating past and present-day experiences of the Santa Monica Black Community.

* Please note that links to third party websites on this City of Santa Monica website are provided for your convenience only. Such third party websites are operated by third parties and are not under the City’s control. 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, approve, monitor, endorse, warrant, or make any representation with respect to third party websites and inclusion of any link to third party websites on this site does not imply affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement, 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.

Authored By

Naomi Okuyama
Cultural Affairs Supervisor


Arts, Culture & Fun, The Arts