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Rhonda Harper: Surfer and Founder

Rhonda Harper resides in San Jose and in Senegal, but she lives in the Santa Cruz surf. Her “home-break”, her surfing home, is Santa Cruz, including Lighthouse Beach, Manresa, and Steamer Lane. Rhonda grew up in the Midwest where the closest she came to surfing was watching it on television. When her family came to San Jose in her youth, she lobbied for family vacations to Santa Cruz beaches over trips to Disneyland. Rhonda has been a journalist, served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and worked as a corporate CEO. She found community on the beach with fellow surfers, but as a black female surfer, she recognized that surf culture did not always represent her or people like her. She founded an international organization, Black Girls Surf, that connects surf trainers, athletes, and coaches of color. Rhonda has been preparing Senegalese surfer Khadija “Khadjou” Sambe for the first Africa Surf International: Simunye Pro.

Person lays across surf board in the ocean with a shorebird flying over the water in the foreground.

A self-described adrenaline-junkie, Rhonda Harper, waits for a good wave in one of her favorite breaks at Manresa State Beach.

Instagram: @blackgirlssurf

Image taken by John Henry Robison of City Surf Project Rhonda Harper and Khadjou Sambe sporting shirts and hats with the Black Girls Surf Foundation logo. Black Girls Surf, whose motto is “Changing the visual for tomorrow”, also increases representation by connecting female surfers of color to casting opportunities in media and film.

Person lays across surf board in the ocean with a shorebird flying over the water in the foreground.
Historic handwritten document

Rhonda Harper (right) and Khadjou Sambe (left) share smiles while surfing at Scott’s Creek Beach just north of Davenport.

Lino: Page & Activist
Phil Reader: Historian & Writer
Martina Castro Lodge: Californio Land Grantee
Axel Erlandson: Arboreal Sculptor
Dora Anderson: Servicewoman & Teacher
London Nelson: School Benefactor
Cora E Drew: Poetess
Ariana Jones: Community Activist
Oscar Corcoles: Community Programmer
Rhonda Harper: Surfer & Founder
Mabel Lucien Davis Pinkney Ritchardson: Singer & Church Leader
Theodore Hammond Smith: Disabilities Care Innovator
Hiroshi Shikuma: Strawberry Farmer
José Galvan Amaro: Labor Activist & Ag Worker
Apolonia Dangzalan: Redwoods Lumberer
Mary Ann Borina Radovich: Businesswoman
Ekua Omosupe: Professor & Writer
Michael Bergazzi: Redwoods Lumberer
Alison Kim: Writer & Archivist
Carrie Lodge: Stenographer & Storyteller