SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Leaders of the black community in South Dakota say the word "Negro" is an acceptable and even desirable part of place names in South Dakota.

South Dakota African-American History Museum President Bob Harris says the word is not offensive. He says it's important that it's kept to give the black culture some recognition.

The Argus Leader newspaper reports that Harris' comments came during a public hearing in Sioux Falls conducted by the state Board on Geographic Names. The group is responsible for getting rid of offensive geographic names -- such as Negro Hill or Squaw Creek.

After hearing a half-dozen people testify Thursday that Negro was not offensive, the board voted unanimously to keep Negro in place names. That will require a change in South Dakota law next year.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.