Your shock is as big as ours if you’ve never heard of a place called “Negro Mountain.” But it is the real and current name of the peak of Alleghany Mountains, a 30-mile ridge that begins in Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake and ends at Casselman River in Pennsylvania. Rep. Rosita Youngblood has been fighting since 2007 to change the controversial name.
Youngblood was appalled when her granddaughter and son confirmed name’s existence. As Pennsylvania’s first Black woman to lead the general assembly, she felt beside herself and even stated “There is no such thing as Negro Mountain in Pennsylvania” but an actual history, or urban legends, are attached to the unbelievable title. The most shared story is from 1756 of which a Black male slave named “Nemesis” (sidenote on that name) selflessly joined American settlers and British soldiers in battle during the French and Indian War. Nemesis (allegedly) died at the peak of Alleghany Mountains, later known as “Negro Mountain.” A legislative petition appeared shortly after the Youngbloods conducted their research and at the urging of the granddaughter.
Nine years later, an official change has not been made, but strides to doing so have grown. More politicians voiced support, including GOP members like Pennsylvania Rep. Seth Grove, and in Maryland, a similar concern carries on as lawmakers over there are trying to change the name of “Polish Mountain” (near Deep Creek Lake). Both names are culturally insensitive, should be renamed to reflect the courage and contribution an unknown individual like Nemesis made for American victories. Youngblood told the Huffington Post: “[Nemesis] was a hero. He served bravely in helping the white settlers. He gave his life, and I think it’s only fair. We treat all our other heroes when they come home from war, or if they’re in a battle … equally, and I do believe the same thing should happen with him.”
Grove also shared: “This commonwealth has a long history of recognizing its heroes by name and Nemesis should not be an exception. It’s the 21st century. We should take steps to rename the mountain for the man — not the race of the man — who saved the lives of so many.”
On a personal level, Youngblood is committed to changing the name at the persuasive behest of her granddaughter and son. “That’s why I’m still working on this. It’s important that they see that we can make some changes here in Pennsylvania.” The last known attempt to change the name was in the early ’90s, when a steelmaker had proposed “Black Hero Mountain.”
As of 2015, 30 political influencers support the name change. For whatever reasons, only Somerset County residents have objected it the bill, possibly citing the longevity of the name (and day-old bread racism). To a cement a new name for “Negro Mountain” however will definitely be a process.
First the petition has to be recognized by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) via the Pennsylvania Department of Conversation and Natural Resources. Then, USGS has to get Maryland’s approval because they own the Deep Creek Lake end, amongst some other legalities.
We definitely wish Youngblood and her team the best. There should no tolerance in this day and age for anything called “Negro Mountain” and the Black man gave his life to fight in war should be honored appropriately.