The California Negro Bar recreation area will change its name

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s State Park and Recreation Commission voted Friday to temporarily rename a lakeside recreation area called Negro Bar while a new name is chosen.

The historic park will be called Black Miners Bar, the commission said in a 7-0 vote.

The day-use area is located on a sandbar on the shore of Natoma Lake, approximately 32 kilometers northeast of Sacramento. The Negro Bar name appears on park signage, website, brochures and maps, according to a staff report.

“Historical use of the name appears in reference to black miners during the gold rush, most notably in an 1850 newspaper article noting that black miners found gold there in 1848,” according to one site. California Department of Parks and Recreation website.

Black miners had campgrounds in the area, and the nearby historic town of Negro Bar had a population of 500 to 600 in 1850, the parks department said.

Opponents of the current name have sought to change it for years, calling the name dated and offensive. An online petition to change her name started in 2018 by Phaedra Jones, a black Stockton resident, has more than 60,000 signatures.

“If you can’t tell me, then it shouldn’t be on the monuments,” Tracie Stafford of Elk Grove, who is black, said at the commission meeting. “It shouldn’t be all over town. It shouldn’t be a place we bring our kids to without any explanation of what it is.

Proponents of the current name worried that changing it would hurt recognition of the historic African-American presence in the area, according to a report by commission staff.

The commission did not say when the area might get a new name. However, members voted for the Parks Department to work with the California African American Museum to conduct a year of historical research to come up with recommendations for a permanent name.

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