Rhode Island moves to change its official name
Voters in the state will choose whether to drop “Providence Plantations” from its full moniker in November.
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The state of Rhode Island is moving to change its official name, “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” due to its connections with slavery.
Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order on Monday to change the name on government documents and the state’s legislature is moving forward with a bill to change the name entirely.
“Many of the State’s residents find it painful that a word so closely associated with slavery should appear in the official name of that State,” Raimondo wrote in a tweet.
She emphasized that the pain its association causes some of their residents should be concerning to all residents and that major steps should be taken so that everyone can be proud of the state.
Over 7,000 people signed a petition on Change.org in support of the name change. Harold Metts, the state’s only Black senator, introduced the bill and the Senate unanimously called for a statewide vote.
This change has been attempted before, back in 2010, but 78% of voters opposed the removal of “Providence Plantations.” This time, though, Metts has renewed hope that people will see things differently.
Metts said in a statement that he believes that attitudes have truly changed in the past few years, especially in the past few weeks.
“Whatever the meaning of the term ‘plantations’ in the context of Rhode Island’s history, it carries a horrific connotation when considering the tragic and racist history of our nation,” he said.
While many residents and activists are happy with the action, many feel that more needs to be taken.
Faith Quinnea, a 16-year-old organizer of one recent protest, said that removing the word “plantations” from the State’s name is one thing protesters want to see, but her next project is getting Black history added to the education curriculum.
Others think it is purely superficial and feel that bigger actions should be taken, like defunding the police.
Rhode Island politicians want residents to vote on the decision in November.
Womazetta Jones, secretary of Rhode Island’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said that she looked forward to seeing the name changed.
“The time has long since passed for our government and other systems to address the injustices that people of color face every single day,” she said.