Story at a glance
- In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, Rhode Island may drop “and Providence Plantations” from its state name.
- Other states have taken strides to remove effigies or names that reference Colonial and Confederacy history.
The Rhode Island November ballot will feature a measure to drop the words “and Providence Plantations” from Rhode Island’s official state title in an attempt to eradicate the reference to the U.S.’s history with colonial slavery and racial subjugation.
The question will appear on the ballot following Rhode Island lawmakers decision to approve a joint resolution to pose it to the public, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
“The images that come to mind when I hear the word ‘plantations’ are the inhuman and degrading treatment of the African Americans who came before me, families ripped apart by slave sales, rapes, castrations and lynchings. It is a hurtful term to so many of us,” Democratic State Sen. Harold Metts, one of the bill’s sponsors, reportedly said in a statement.
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Rhode Island was formally named The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations when it ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1790. While the same question was reportedly asked roughly 10 years ago, momentum to change the state’s moniker has swelled amid Black Lives Matter protests and national dialogue on systemic racism in the U.S.
Last month, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed an executive order to remove “and Providence Plantations” from some public documentation and websites. The option to remove it outright will be posed to residents in November.
“Rhode Island built its economy on being a leader in the slave trade in colonial times. This old, festering wound still needs healing. We aren’t proud of that history, and we must stop glorifying a word that is inescapably associated with that terrible past,” Metts stated.
During the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, saw a large peaceful protest consisting of more than 20,000 people supporting civil rights.
Floyd’s death and the civil rights protests that followed have paved the way for the removal of statues, monuments and flags that harken to the subjugation of Black Americans in the U.S.
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