Rhode Island moves toward changing official state name

Rhode Island’s governor will no longer use the state’s official name because of racism.

Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed an executive order taking what she called the “first steps” to change the official name of the state.

According to a Fox News report, Executive Order 20-48 will require that future executive orders, citations and stationery letterheads refer only to “The State of Rhode Island” rather than “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” the official name for its entire history as a U.S. state.

It also requests that all state executive agencies remove “plantations” references from their websites.

The executive order does not change the state’s name officially — that would require a voter referendum amending the state’s constitution.

That is coming though.

According to the Providence Journal, the state Senate’s lone black member is pushing through a bill to do that.

Sen. Harold Metts, Providence Democrat, introduced legislation last week that passed his chamber unanimously. According to the Journal, the House leadership thinks the bill “deserves a fair hearing” and expects to take it up next month.

Providence Plantations was never a “plantation” in the sense of the famous and notorious Southern slave estates.

The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was founded by breakaway Christians fleeing Massachusetts in the 17th century for more religious freedom. The colony even outright barred slavery of all races in 1652, more than a century before any other future state.

That doesn’t matter, Mr. Metts said.

“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,” he told the Journal.

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