Rhode Island is moving to change its official name – “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” – due to its connotations of slavery.
Governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed a executive order Monday stating that his office would not use the word “Plantations” in future executive orders, appointments, or on its website.
And last week, the Rhode Island Legislature signaled it will move forward with state Senate legislation to get a referendum on the name change on the November ballot. The state’s only black state senator, Harold Metts, introduced the bill.
“Whatever the meaning of the term ‘plantations’ may be in the context of Rhode Island history, it has a horrible connotation when considering our nation’s tragic and racist history,” Metts said in a statement last week, according to the Providence Journal.
The governor’s office also plans to label stationary with only the text “State of Rhode Island” “as soon as possible.” All executive agencies will also remove the word “plantations” from their websites, stationery, electronic letterheads, and all official correspondence.
Raimondo’s order said the executive offices “will determine if there is an alternative available for the use of the state seal in official documents and will replace or omit the seal when possible.”
“I urge voters to approve the name change in November, but now I will take all steps under my control to remove the name from my official communications and those of my executive agencies,” he said in the order.
The push for a name change comes amid nationwide calls for racial justice after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
Rhode Island’s roots go back to Providence Plantations, a settlement established by Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger Williams Financial Firms Facing Serious Piracy Threats in the COVID-19 Era Lawmakers Shame Former Wells Fargo Directors for Failing to Restart Bank Democrats ‘Frustrated’ by Administration Coronavirus Response After a closed door briefing MORE in 1636.
A Change.org petition For the past two weeks, applying for a name change for the state now has more than 7,250 signatures.
But previous efforts to modify the Rhode Island name have been unsuccessful, with nearly 78 percent of voters opposing the removal of “Providence Plantations” from the name in 2010.