The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected Tuesday to call for Negrohead Mountain near Seminole Hot Springs to be renamed in honor of local African American pioneer John Ballard.
At the request of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the board will consider sending a formal proposal to the United States Board of Geographic Names to have the name changed to Ballard Mountain.
Joel Bellman, spokesman for Yaroslavsky, called the 2,031-foot mountain’s current name “dated.”
The mountain is thought to have derived its name from Ballard, one of the early settlers in the region, Bellman said.
“It’s not like we’re just sort of superimposing our history on that site,” he said.
After marrying his wife, Amanda, in Kentucky in 1859, Ballard moved to Los Angeles to join the growing community of black residents that had fled the Southern states looking for freedom and opportunity in the West, according to Yaroslavsky’s office.
At the time, there were about 4,000 resident in Los Angeles, about 60 of them black.
Ballard helped found the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles around 1869, eventually leaving the city after his wife died and his subsequent remarriage.
Under the Homestead Act, Ballard and his daughter applied for land in the Seminole Hot Springs area and received about 160 acres each in 1900. Ballard died soon after.
The original name of the mountain — the tallest in the region — contained a racial slur in place of “negro,” but was changed due to federal civil rights legislation in the 1960s, Bellman said.
The goal of changing the name again is to directly honor Ballard and his family’s contribution to the area, Yaroslavsky said.
[NBC Los Angeles]