Citing slavery connotations, Rhode Island governor moves to hide state's full name on official docs

Its official name is 'the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.'

Last Updated:
June 24, 2020 - 1:18pm

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Declaring the state's official title a "slap in the face" to black residents, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo this week declared that she had unilaterally ordered state documents to shed the state's full name over claims that it constituted a racist affront. 

Rhode Island's little-referenced full moniker, the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, a holdover from its days as a British colony, will henceforth not appear on official state documents, Raimondo declared at a press conference Monday. 

"We can't ignore the image conjured by the word 'plantation,' " she declared. "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 also referred to the state's full name as "demoralizing," "a slap in the face," and "painful."

Though the term "plantation" is often associated today with a large-scale farm in the American south dependent upon slave labor, at the time of Rhode Island's colonial founding it was generally the term used to describe colonial settlements and outposts. 

Some state officials have suggested putting an official name change proposal on the ballot in November, though voters in 2010 rejected a similar proposal by over 77%. 

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