OBSERVER Staff Report
Last week, the California State Park and Recreation Commission (CSPRC) voted 7-0 to provisionally change the name of a picturesque stretch of recreational land along Folsom Lake in Sacramento County from Negro Bar to Black Miner’s Bar.
The park was historically known as the pejorative “N***er Bar,” according to the book “Riches for All: The California Gold Rush and the World.”
The CSPRC says for about four years now, park goers have been putting pressure on the commission to change the name of the park some say is “derogatory” and “offensive.” The move is the initial step in the park’s rebranding and part of a broader effort the state park authorities, the Natural Resources Agency and the Department of Transportation have undertaken to scrub landmarks and public facilities of names they deem discriminatory.
The CSPRC is currently in the process of finding a permanent name change for Black Miner’s Bar.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) says it began a review of park names across the state in 2018, and now it is open to input from the public.
“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,” Mapp said. “A permanent renaming will be informed by more listening, more research, and engagement with the community for a permanent name place. There is no going back, it’s only forward from here.”
Located in the city of Folsom, Black Miner’s Bar sits on the west bank of the American River, which flows south into the adjoining Sacramento River. The recreational area was named after an area where Black miners once worked during the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. Because of the widespread discrimination at the time, the miners were restricted to work in that designated are at the bend of the area.
In 1850, the Black miners struck gold — one to two ounces for each man on the average per day, according to an article published in the now-defunct Sacramento Placer Times. State Parks says it is in consultation with the California Native American tribal governments and tribal community members and the California African American Museum (CAAM) about finding a permanent name for Black Miner’s Bar.
“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.”
California State Parks Director Armando Quintero says he is grateful to all stakeholders and the general public for offering their opinions and providing suggestions during the renaming process.
“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.”