Governor Raimondo signs executive order removing “Providence Plantations” from state documents

This also follows an executive order by Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza to remove the word from city documents last week.

PROVIDENCE, R.I (WLNE)  – The phrase “Providence Plantations” will no longer appear as a part of the state’s name on state documents and websites after Governor Raimondo signed an executive order Monday to remove the phrase following calls to change the state’s name for racial insensitivity.

This also follows an executive order by Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza to remove the word from city documents last week.

Black leaders say the word ‘plantations’ evokes thoughts of slavery for people of color and is therefore racially insensitive, and Governor Raimondo agreed.

Governor Raimondo acknowledged that in Rhode Island the word doesn’t necessarily refer to plantations that fostered slavery, but said it’s still unfair to people of color

“We can’t ignore the image conjured by the word plantations,” said Raimondo Monday. “We can’t ignore how painful that is for black Rhode Islanders that have to see that as part of their state’s name. It’s demoralizing! It’s demoralizing, it’s a slap in the face, it’s painful.”

The push to take ‘Providence Plantations’ out of the state name has been gaining momentum since the death of George Floyd. The next step would be to pose the question to voters in the next election.

Senator Harold Metts was one of the elected officials at the head of trying to eliminate the word plantations from the state name ahead of the general election back in 2010, when it was last on the ballot.

Metts, who is also the deacon at Congdon Street Baptist Church, says the time has come to try voters again in changing the name of the state.

“It’s going to make amends for what was done in the past for all populations in my humble opinion,” Metts said over Zoom Monday.

Metts and others in the African American community applauded the governor’s executive order to remove the word from state documents.

“Pscychologcially, the word plantation is very hurtful,” explained Metts. “And in our children’s development we don’t want a psychological knee on the neck that reminds them of the negativity of the past of slavery.”

“Racism and oppression still exists and it persists even here in Rhode Island,” said Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Womazetta Jones. “The word ‘plantations’ is literally in the name of the state. And that blew my mind when I saw that first paycheck stub.”

A decade ago voters rejected the ballot question.

This year Metts’s resolution to get it on the ballot for the upcoming election has already passed the senate.

“I think it’s a new day and I think it has an excellent chance of passing, and as it should,” said Metts. “As it should – it’s long overdue.”

In the house, Representative Anastasia Williams is leading the charge with a resolution to get the name change on the ballot this year.

The governor said they will all be working hard over the summer to get the question to voters in November and also to convince the majority of Rhode Islanders that it’s the right thing to do.

 

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2020

 

Categories: News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island