Supervisors El Dorado County voted Tuesday to replace 36 gravestones that bear the N-word, giving the green light to state, county and community officials to design an alternative.
The graves hold pioneers from a Gold Rush settlement called Negro Hill.
The federal government moved the bodies from the mining town in 1954 to make way for a dam. In the process, concrete headstones were erected that say the settlers came from N-word Hill.
The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors took its most decisive action yet in unanimously agreeing to get rid of the offensive gravestones.
The board rejected a proposal by Supervisor John Knight's to hand authority for the project over to the California Prison Industry Authority, which runs work programs for inmates and offered its services free of charge.
Knight's district includes El Dorado Hills, where the cemetery is located.
Instead, supervisors invited outside input after a group of advocates seeking the removal of the headstones said the black community should be behind any changes.
"It's embarrassing and it's insulting to us for it to be there and for you to take under consideration to let some prisoners fix it?" said Ralph White, one of the community members at the meeting. "We would love for them to help us, we would love for you to help us, anybody to help us. But we would like to be the leading agent, to show what we want."
White's group presented supervisors with a prototype of the headstones it wants as replacements.