Petition calls for name change of Negro Bar State Park in CA

Posted at 10:41 AM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 11:41:57-04

FOLSOM, CA (KCRA/CNN) - There’s a push to change the name of a popular recreation area.

A woman from Stockton is leading the charge to rename Negro Bar State Park. She collected nearly 1,400 signatures since starting an online petition last month.

The state said it doesn't have plans to change the name.

"I couldn't believe that I had seen it. I was in shock. I was upset," said Phaedra Jones, who started the petition.

Jones was making a delivery when she first saw the sign.

"I understand that 'negro' was used back in the '70s, in the '60s," she said. "I understand that, but now that - (if) someone else right now called me a negro, I would be shocked. I would cry."

Jones said the name should be changed to something "beautiful," not something that makes somebody hurt or feel uncomfortable.

In a statement, a spokesperson for California State Parks said while they understand the park's name may be offensive to some, it is historically significant. They said in part, "Many feel that a name change would reduce the cultural significance and important contribution that African-Americans made in the region."

The state said the park was named for the black miners who were the first to prospect the gravel bar along the American River. Parkgoers have mixed reactions on the name.

"The area has history, and they were part of it, and I think it gives them some recognition," an unnamed man said.

Jones said she hasn't heard from the state about her petition but hopes they'll consider a change.

"I'm proud that it has been something for black people, and I want it to stay that way," she said. "But I just feel like, since we have progressed in time and age, I feel like the name should also change as well with that."

The spot is popular on Yelp, getting a near-perfect score from the 32 reviews it received. Not a single review mentioned a problem with the park's name.

Copyright 2018 KCRA via CNN. All rights reserved.