March 03, 2022

LAWT News Service


The National Park Service released a new 13-minute film called To Right a Wrong: The Story of Ballard Mountain, which documents a community effort to change the name of a local peak in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). 

Previously known as a racial slur, the mountain was renamed in 2010 to honor the first Black family to homestead in the Santa Monica Mountains. To view the film, click here. Click here to read the press release online.

The short documentary details the efforts of area residents and historians to remove the offensive name from a local mountain, located south of the cities of Thousand Oaks and Agoura Hills, California. Their actions reverberated across the region and ended up reaching the modern-day Ballard family, descendants of John Ballard whom the mountain was eventually named for.

The inspirational, heart-wrenching film chronicles the resiliency of a family who overcame incredible hardships.

"So often people will give attention to something because it's media worthy, but this was something that a group of folks thought was worthwhile," said great, great grandson Ryan Ballard referring to the renaming effort. Ryan’s father, 96-year-old Reggie Ballard, was also extensively interviewed for the film.

Local historian and Moorpark College history professor Patty Colman and residents Paul and Leah Culberg were instrumental in making the name change happen. They chronicle their recollections in the film, along with SMMNRA park superintendent David Szymanski.   

"Ballard Mountain is the untold story of an African American family’s experiences in the Santa Monica Mountains and the City of Los Angeles,” Szymanski said. “It is important because it reminds us of the unrecognized people who passed our cities and parks down to us.”

Funding for the project was provided by the Santa Monica Mountains Fund and the National Park Service. The film was directed and filmed by Darius Dawson and edited by Austin Rourke, both alums of the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. It was written and narrated by Ana Beatriz Cholo, the public affairs officer for SMMNRA. Additional photography was provided by Kayla McCraren, the park's visual information specialist.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit

Category: Community