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Southern California Black surf pioneers honored at ‘A Great Day in the Stoke’

Southern California Black surf pioneers honored at 'A Great Day in the Stoke'
Kayita Johnson speaks at A Great Day in the Stoke in Huntington Beach, California on June 4. (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

Past, present and future Black surfers in Southern California were honored at Huntington Beach on June 4.

Nathan Fluellen hosted the city’s inaugural “A Great Day in the Stoke,” a name inspired by “A Great Day in Harlem,” a picture of 57 jazz musicians taken in 1958, and “A Great Day in Hip-Hop,” a picture of 177 hip-hop artists and producers taken in 1998.

After taking his own photos of hundreds of the attendees at his event, Fluellen led the crowd to a stage to give out the event’s awards. Surfers of the Day Awards were given to the top men, women and youth performers, which included personal trainer Davinity Gaines.

“I cannot believe this,” Gaines repeatedly said as she posed for pictures with the award.

Southern California Black surf pioneers honored at 'A Great Day in the Stoke'
2022 “A Great Day in the Stokes” Women’s Overall champion Divinity Gaines. (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

Then, three of the sports’ Black pioneers were recognized. Tony Corley, Sharon Schaffer and Kayiita Johnson. Corley founded the Black Surfing Association, Schaffer was the first professional Black female surfer and Johnson, dubbed the “young OG,” created a social media page to draw more attention to various Black surfers. Johnson’s Waveblaze Award was powered by rolling out.

“… The waters and Mother Ocean gives us so much love, so much joy, gives us the ability to pay it forward to heal, to unify,” Schaffer said. “To bring our beauty, our artistry, our surfing, our skills, our dancing, our music, our everything to come in and make something beautiful.”

Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize also presented a declaration to Fluellen for his efforts to disintegrate the stereotypes of Black people not knowing how to swim.

The field of Black surfers ranged from a group of four Black women from New York- Farmata Dia, Autumn Kitchens, Cyn and Elizabeth. “Grown-ish” star Trevor Jackson also participated in the morning’s surf contest.

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