This State Is Changing Its Name Because of Slavery Associations

The state is removing "Providence Plantations" from its name due to racist associations.


The smallest state in America is undergoing a big change. While it's colloquially known as Rhode Island, the New England state's official name is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the latter part of which refers to the state's initial European settlement. However, the use of the word "plantation" has long had historical ties to slavery, prompting Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo to announce measures to remove it from the state's name.

"We can't ignore the image conjured by the word plantation," Raimondo said at a press conference on June 22. "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."

Raimondo signed an executive order to have the words "Providence Plantations" removed from orders and citations issued by the Office of the Governor, executive branch agency websites, and both paychecks and pay stubs for Rhode Island state employees, calling the continued use of the name "a slap in the face" and "demoralizing" to Black Rhode Islanders.

Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner noted in a statement that the Office of the General Treasurer in Rhode Island will cease to use the phrase on citations, letterhead, and other written documentation from the office, as well.

rhode island governor gina raimondo
Shutterstock/Anthony Ricci

Raimondo announced that legislation is already in place in the Senate to add the removal of "and Providence Plantations" from Rhode Island's name to November ballots, with a measure in the House poised to do the same.

"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," said Raimondo. "You can be proud of Rhode Island, but don't be proud of that. Don't be proud of a word that represents the worst of what our nation has to offer."

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"Making this change would pay some respect to our ancestors who were forced into slavery, and would stop serving as a constant reminder to present-day Rhode Islanders of our painful past," added senator Harold M. Metts in a statement.

While changing the state's name may seem like a simple way to cut ties with one of America's more notorious atrocities, a similar measure has received ample of pushback in the past. According to a report from the Providence Journal, nearly 78 percent of voters in 2010 rejected an amendment that would have removed "Providence Plantations" from the state's name. And if you're eager to make your own lexicon more inclusive, start by ditching these 7 Common Phrases That You Didn't Know Have Racist Origins.

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