Rhode Island to change its official name due to slavery connotations.
What’s going on:
- Rhode Island — known as the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations — will change its name amid the civil unrest around the country. The state would specifically drop the latter half of the name from all state documents and websites.
- Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order to officially make the move, according to The New York Times.
- Raimondo said: “We have to acknowledge our history, that’s true, but we can acknowledge our history without elevating a phrase that’s so deeply associated with the ugliest time in our state and in our country’s history.”
- The governor said the word “plantations” has connotations of slavery.
- Raimondo said: “We can’t ignore the image conjured by the word plantation. We can’t ignore how painful that is for black Rhode Islanders to see that and have to see that as part of their state’s name. It’s demoralizing. It’s a slap in the face. It’s painful.”
- Rhode Island — one of the first 13 colonies — was the first colony to abolish slavery in 1652. Historians said there has been little evidence that the state ever enforced the abolition of slavery before it happened across the country, according to The New York Times.
- The Rhode Island state House of Representatives said it would embrace state Senate legislation to add a referendum on the November ballot to change the name, according to The Hill.
- Rhode Island’s only Black state senator, Harold Metts, introduced the bill.
- Metts said (via Providence Journal): “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.”