Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order on Monday taking the “first steps” to change the state’s full name: “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”
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The “plantations” part of the name has come under much controversy following widespread protests after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Sources from Fox News state that the order, Executive Order 20-48, will change the name to just ‘Rhode Island’ in official communications from the governor’s office including future executive orders, citations and stationery letterheads. It also calls on all state executive agencies to remove the “plantations” reference from their websites.
The order does not change the state’s official name permanently that will require voters to amend the Rhode Island Constitution, the order states.
The state Legislature has hinted that it will move forward with the referendum after the Rhode Island Senate passed a measure last week calling for a statewide vote on the name change.
The bill was introduced by Rhode Island’s sole black senator, Harold Metts.
“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,” Metts said to the Providence Journal.
Prior attempts to change the state’s name have failed after the issue was put on the ballot. In 2010, almost 78 percent of voters opposed a constitutional amendment removing ‘Providence Plantations’ from the state’s name.
The recent push for a name change may have started when an online petition began making waves following Floyd’s death.
“Some Rhode Islanders have prided themselves on living in the ‘smallest state with the longest name.’ But, the history of how we got this name is often forgotten,” the petition reads. It currently has almost 7,500 signatures.