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The Utah Committee on Geographic Names  has decided to keep the name of “Negro Bill Canyon,” a landmark named for William Grandstaff, a black rancher whose cattle grazed in the Moab city canyon that has since become a popular hiking spot.

The state panel came together to reconsider the name after the Utah Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission  sent a letter asking the commission to “relegate such blatant racism to the annals of history,”  according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.  The local NAACP disagrees with the commissioner, saying that the canyon’s name preserves its history.

The president of NAACP‘s local conference area, Jeanetta Williams, says the name is inoffensive. She cites the National Council of Negro Women as one of the national organizations that retains the dated term for African Americans as a nod to its history. “It’s no more uncomfortable saying the word negro than it is saying African-American or [B]lack.” 

The canyon’s name has been disputed for years. In 1999, local state and federal agencies refused to support a proposed name change. When tourists recently complained, the Grand City Council voted to change the canyon’s name. The Federal Bureau of Land Management changed the signs to “Grandstaff Trailhead” last September. Both decisions prompted the UCGN to call for a vote. The U.S. Board of Geographical Names will consider UCGN’s recommendation when it makes its final decision later this year.

SOURCE: Las Vegas Review Journal


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‘Negro Bill’ Canyon Here to Stay, Says Utah Panel  was originally published on