Jun 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Rhode Island to remove "plantations" from state documents and symbols

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo. Photo: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) issued an executive order Tuesday to eliminate the word "plantations" from state documents, symbols and related government websites.

Why it matters: The state seal includes a golden anchor along with the word "hope" and the phrase "the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." Rhode Island was one of the original 13 colonies, with Providence Plantations founded in 1636.

The big picture: Governors and state legislators are engaging in debates regarding statues and symbols that glorify the Confederacy or slavery in their states.

  • Earlier this month, Raimondo said she wanted to put the removal of "Providence Plantations" from the state name on the ballot in November.

What they're saying:

"We can't ignore the image conjured by the word 'plantations.' 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."
ā€” Gina Raimondo at a press conference
"The State of Rhode Island and 'Providence Plantations' has been the state's recorded name since conception, but the change is just one step toward unity and progress and away from controversial history. I think a word like plantations is a trigger that I think it's good to eliminate it because it brings people together."
ā€” NAACP Providence president Jim Vincent, per NBC affiliate in Boston

The other side: Rhode Island GOP chair Sue Cienki told the NBC affiliate in Providence that voters should ultimately decide whether to change the state's formal name and seal.

  • "I certainly understand her sentiment for wanting to change it, but I don't agree with the way she went about it by doing it by executive order," Cienki said.
  • In 2010, the motion to remove "Providence Plantations" was rejected by voters.

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