Petition Created to Change State Park’s Controversial Name

FOLSOM -- Phaedra Jones was shocked to realize the name of a state park tucked around the bend along the American River in Folsom carried the word "negro" in its name.

"I couldn't believe that it said that on there," Jones told FOX40. "I was hurt. I was angry."

Jones says she was stunned, shocked and appalled that in this day and age a word to her and many, one that represents racism and negativity, can be the name of a state park.

"Now times have progressed and as the younger people grow older and we see this, we know that other people, when they say negro, it's not something that you thrive to hear," Jones said. "It's not something that makes you happy or excited to hear. It's something that makes you feel uncomfortable."

Jones feels so strongly about a name change that she started a petition, rallying to change Negro Bar to something else, like a name to honor the black community.

"I would like to see one of the miners be named after the park," Jones recommended.

"That was an area where the African Americans could mine for gold in peace without worrying about their claims being jumped," said Gary Simon, the executive director of Sacramento Juneteenth, Inc.

Simon says the word plays a historical role in America’s past.

"Negro Bar is significant in that it also shares the information that there were African American miners," he said. "It identifies and recognizes the fact that African Americans have been a part of this country and have been contributing to this country since day one."

He recognizes that emotions stir at the very sound of the word but believes the park’s name should stay unchanged.

"I say leave it alone so that the history will preserve itself," Simon said. "Of course, the name is going to pique your interest. But there's historical significance."

As of Tuesday night, the petition had more than 1,500 signatures.