California to rename 'Negro Bar' park after years of debate
A park close to Folsom Lake in California will be temporarily renamed after years of debate over its racist origins(AFP)

A California park called Negro Bar will finally be renamed after years of debate over its racist origins, state officials said Friday.

The park in Folsom, a predominantly white city near state capital Sacramento, was originally named after Black miners who worked the California gold rush in the area in the late 1840s.

It was frequently referred to by locals and even the San Francisco Chronicle by the even more offensive N-word slur until around a century ago.

In a new report, California's park department called the controversy "one of the more long-standing park facility naming issues" it faces as it moves to "identify and remove residual derogatory place names."

The department had ruled against renaming the park in 1999, with some reportedly raising concerns that a change would mean "loss of recognition... to African American presence and participation in the California Gold Rush."

But an online petition launched by a food delivery app driver who spotted a roadside sign four years ago prompted renewed action.

"I couldn't believe that I had actually seen a sign that read 'Negro Bar,'" wrote Uber Eats driver Phaedra Jones.

"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."

On Friday, two days before the Juneteenth anniversary of the emancipation of US slaves, the California State Park and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to rename the park, it said in a statement to AFP.

The park will temporarily be known as Black Miners Bar. Historians will be given a year to research "viable long-term naming options," and input from community members and tribal leaders will be encouraged.

The park -- located on a sandbar -- contains campsites, nature trails, a paddle sports concession, and a training center for a junior lifeguard program.

"This park is so beautiful and many people enjoy it," wrote Jones, in the online petition.

"I just hate that this park that was meant to honor African American miners, still has to be called (an) offensive name."