For Immediate Release: 6/17/2022
California State Park and Recreation Commission Takes First Step to Rename Negro Bar
Renaming to Black Miners Bar is one of the many issues State Parks is addressing as part of its Reexamining Our Past Initiative
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The California State Park and Recreation Commission today voted unanimously on a temporary name change of a day-use area, identified as Negro Bar within Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, to Black Miners Bar. This name change is part of a multistep recommendation. Next, California State Parks will continue working closely with the California African American Museum, tribal governments and members, stakeholders and members of the public to ensure the new name is appropriate and reflective of its historical significance as a site where Black miners prospected during the Gold Rush era. Additional input will also aid in the drafting of interpretive panels for a completed day-use facility improvement project.
“The people of California have spoken and what they’ve let us know as a commission loud and clear is that words matter, especially the words that describe our state parks,” said State Park and Recreation Commission Chairperson Rue Mapp. “And those words need to be inclusive and welcoming to all Californians. Today we did just that in making the provisional renaming of Negro Bar to Black Miners Bar. A permanent renaming will be informed by more listening, more research, and engagement with the community for a permanent name place. There’s no going back, it’s only forward from here.”
Since 2018, California State Parks has been working to address requests from park visitors and the interested public and stakeholders to consider a name change in response to their understanding that the place name is derogatory and has made the area less accessible to the community whose history it reflects.
The historical use of the name for this site, located in Sacramento County, appears in reference to Black miners during the Gold Rush, including from an 1850 newspaper article noting Black miners finding gold at this location in 1848. A few years prior to the Gold Rush, in 1844, the area was part of a Mexican government land grant named Rancho Rio de los Americanos received by the multiracial West Indian immigrant and entrepreneur William Alexander Leidesdorff. The historic townsite of Negro Bar was south of the historic city of Folsom, across the American River from what is today’s day-use facilities. The 1850 U.S. census, as well as election returns from the 1850s, refer to Negro Bar as having 500 to 600 residents. In the early 20th century, the townsite was covered by soils and debris processed by various dredge companies that would later merge into Natomas Consolidated of California in 1908.
State Parks has held numerous meetings with diverse stakeholders and formal consultations with California Native American tribal governments and tribal community members and is now working with the California African American Museum.
“Thank you to the public, stakeholders and partners for their feedback today and during the public input process to update the name of this historic site,” stated California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “State Parks looks forward to the continued partnership so that all visitors to this site not only feel welcomed, but also learn about the contributions of Black miners during the Gold Rush and of the residents who called this area their home.”
“CAAM is honored to be collaborating with California State Parks on long-overdue remedies to underrepresentation and misinformation—including inappropriate place names—relating to African Americans in state parks,” says CAAM History Curator Susan D. Anderson. “I look forward to helping transform our parks into places that celebrate African Americans’ long, vital, and historic presence in California.”
The renaming to Black Miners Bar is just one of the many issues State Parks is addressing as part of its Reexamining Our Past Initiative to identify and redress discriminatory or contested place names, monuments and interpretation in California’s State Park System. On September 25, 2020, the California Natural Resources Agency, State Parks and the Department of Transportation announced a series of actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the state park and transportation systems. The most recent name change of a state park took place last fall with the renaming of Patrick’s Point State Park to Sue-meg State Park to honor the place name used by the Yurok people. To learn more, visit parks.ca.gov/ReexaminingOurPast.
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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.