While working with Uber eats, I drove through the town of Folsom, California and stopped at a red light. In the distance I saw a sign across the street that I will never forget. This sign read "Negro Bar Picnic Area" with an arrow pointing across the bridge. Mind you, the sign was only a couple feet in front of another bar called "The Cliff House of Folsom."
When I saw this, my first thought was "WHAT THE HECK!?" Does this mean the bar behind it was a whites only bar and across the way was for the negros? I was so confused, shocked, angry, putdown, sad, hurt, disrespected and in disbelief. I couldn't believe that I had actually seen a sign that read "Negro Bar." Maybe because I prefer not to be called a negro in this day and age.
When I saw that sign, I IMMEDIATELY felt uncomfortable, my stomach started hurting, I rolled up my windows and made sure I looked in my mirrors every 10 seconds. I couldn't wait to find the nearest freeway out of that town.
Once I got home, I looked into this straightforward racist name for a state-run park, and found out a couple things. According to the California Department of Education, gold was first discovered by James Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California back in January 1848. By the end of the year, over 10,000 miners had arrived. But African American immigrants were the first to mine in that area, making this park originally California's first Black gold mining site.
When I searched KCRA.com, I found six San Francisco Chronicle articles from 1900-1930 that refer to the settlement by the gravel bar not as "Negro Bar," but rather as the inflammatory "(N-word) Bar." Sometime in late 1920s to early '30s, the paper apparently decided to stop using the pejorative term in favor of "Negro Bar."
After reading about the history of the area, I am proud of the park. I totally understand the name it was called back in the 1800's and why they changed it in the early 1900's. But now the name Negro Bar has to go. The word negro isn't even allowed on federal forms, but it's still a name of a state park? Why can't this name be changed to something like Black Bar, or possibly name it after one of the men who first started mining there?
I find this name totally offensive, not only because its located in a predominantly White neighborhood, but because this is such an out-of-date and offensive name. This park is so beautiful and many people enjoy it. I just hate that this park that was meant to honor African American miners, still has to be called offensive name.
Please sign this petition to demand that we have a more decent celebratory name for this park other than Negro Bar.