Negrohead Mountain now Ballard Mountain in honor of African-American pioneer

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The newly-renamed Ballard Mountain is part of the Santa Monica Mountains in Agoura Hills, Calif.

For decades, a peak in the Santa Monica Mountains was known as “Negrohead Mountain.” At a private ceremony on Saturday, federal and Los Angeles County officials will formally dedicate a new name for the peak: Ballard Mountain.

The name Ballard Mountain honors John Ballard — the freed slave from Kentucky who arrived in Los Angeles in 1859. Ballard ran a delivery business and became prominent in L.A.’s small African American community. He co-founded the city’s first African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In the 1880s, Ballard re-settled in the Santa Monica Mountains. If Negrohead Mountain sounds bad, it’s a 1960s-era improvement over the racial slur pioneers originally called John Ballard’s homestead.

The “Negrohead” name appeared on maps and government documents until last fall. That’s when the U.S. Geological Survey changed the name, at the request of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who sponsored the motion to request the name change, and Dr. Marcia McNutt, Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, are expected to attend.

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