‘Negro Bar’ no more. California recreation area to be renamed Black Miners Bar for now

Woman listens to speakers during a meeting.
Tracie Stafford of Elk Grove listens to speakers during a meeting of the California State Park and Recreation Commission in Sacramento on Friday to discuss renaming the Negro Bar recreation area on Lake Natoma.
(Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee)

California’s State Park and Recreation Commission voted on 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 at a sandbar on the shore of Lake Natoma, about 20 miles northeast of Sacramento. The name Negro Bar appears on the park signage, website, brochures and maps, according to a staff report.


“The historical use of the name 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,” according to a Department of Parks and Recreation website.

Black miners had campgrounds in the region and the nearby historic townsite of Negro Bar had 500 to 600 residents in 1850, the parks department said.

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

“If you can’t say it to me, then it should not be on monuments,” Tracie Stafford of Elk Grove, who is Black, said during the commission meeting. “It shouldn’t be all over the city. It shouldn’t be a place where we’re bringing our children with no explanation of what it is.”

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Supporters of the current name had raised concerns that changing it might diminish recognition of the historic African American presence in the area, according to a commission staff report.

The commission didn’t indicate when the area might get a new permanent name. However, members voted to have the parks department work with the California African American Museum to conduct a year of historical research to come up with recommendations for a permanent name.