By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 10:47 EST, 26 November 2012 | UPDATED: 11:07 EST, 26 November 2012
- Local residents say they are embarrassed by the current name
- The NAACP is against the move because they say changing the name will ‘lose black history’
- Two previous attempts have failed because the NAACP was against it
- Until the 1960s, the canyon was known by an even more offensive name that included the N-word
Residents in Moab, Utah are trying for a third time to get a popular canyon just outside the city renamed because they believe the current name is embarrassing and disrespectful.
Local resident Louis Williams says he cringes every time he has to tell visitors that the name of the canyon is Negro Bill Canyon.
Williams, a window cleaner who has lived in the area for 14 years, has posted an online petition that has garnered more than 600 signatures. He plans to submit a formal renaming application to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.
Residents in Moab, Utah have started a petition to have Negro Bill Canyon renamed because they are embarrassed by the name
The canyon was named after black cowboy William ‘Bill’ Grandstaff who lived in the area from 1877 to 1881.
‘People cringe when we have to tell the name of it. The looks on their face is: “What did you just say?”’ Williams said. ‘People ask. “Why is it named that?” They don’t ask who he is.’
But president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Salt Lake City chapter, Jeanetta Williams, has said her organization will oppose the name change just as it has when the proposal has been put forward before.
‘If the name changes, it’s going to lose its history,’ she said. ‘Negro is an acceptable word.’
Even though efforts in the late 1990s and 2000s to change the canyon name were met by resistance from the NAACP, Williams is optimistic the idea will gain more traction this time.
‘Most of the places and streets and trails that were named after settlers just used their last names,’ Williams said. ‘That is what we should do for him.’
The canyon was named after black cowboy William ‘Bill’ Grandstaff who lived in the area from 1877 to 1881
The online petition was launched by local resident Louis Williams last week
There are hundreds of canyons, reservoirs and lakes throughout the U.S. still bearing names now deemed derogatory
For nearly 100 years the canyon had an even worse name featuring the ‘N-word’, which was changed in the 1960s apparently at the request of First Lady Lady Bird Johnson.
Louis Williams says the current name and its earlier, ruder, variation is disrespectful. He wants the southern Utah canyon to be renamed Grandstaff Canyon.
‘I don’t think he introduced himself that way and I know that isn’t the way his parents named him,’ he told KLS.com. ‘All the other settlers in this area have got the respect of their given names. So I think we should give a little bit more homage to Mr Grandstaff.’
The campaign is one of dozens across the country to rename canyons, reservoirs, lakes and other places still bearing names deemed derogatory.
There are 757 places with ‘negro’ in the name from Alaska to Florida and Maine to California, according to an analysis of government records.