By Laura Haefeli

FOLSOM (CBS13) – February is Black History Month and one community organization in Placerville is getting a head start.

Placerville History Channel held a Zoom meeting Thursday to discuss the history of the California Gold Rush and the role African American people played in it.

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Michael Harris, a historian and chair of Friends of Negro Bar, discussed the importance of allowing the title of the Folsom’s California state park “Negro Bar,” to remain.

“The actual Gold Rush happened in 1849. When the Gold Rush happened, the world rushed in. Roughly 200 million dollars in gold was extracted in the mining region around Negro Bar and it was filled with people of African Descent,” Harris said.

Harris added, “The first place in Sacramento County where gold was found and reported and documented was Negro Bar.”

The name “Negro Bar” remains in Folsom today.

“You have people with a common background who would congregate and then leave their name and leave their history. The history of Black people mining in California is saved by the place names,” said historian Doug Ketron, of Amador County, who joined the Zoom session.

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CBS13 received a statement back in June from California State Parks that explained African American community leaders have supported the continued use of this name in the past but that “California State Parks recognizes that such interpretations can change over time.”

It’s a dangerous possibility for Harris, who understands the title may be shocking to some.

“When you say the word Negro, the Confederate flag starts flying,” he said.

But fears that the name could change the history may be forgotten.

“Now in 2021, we want to erase it for future generations,” Harris said.

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CBS13 did reach back out to California State Parks Thursday to ask if they were still considering a name change or if they’ve decided to leave it as is.
They were not able to give us an answer right away.