Unless you live in Rhode Island, you probably didn’t know that the state’s full name is “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" - a name that's apparently become so offensive, it needs to be changed after more than 350 years.
“Today I am once again pledging my support to remove ‘Providence Plantations’ from our State’s name,” Governor Gina Raimondo said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon acknowledging the connection between the word "plantations" and slavery.
This announcement comes after the Providence City Council passed a resolution calling for the Rhode Island government to remove the name. The Democratic-led Senate has also passed a resolution to put the name change initiative on the ballot this November.
An executive order was issued Tuesday morning by Raimondo to end the use of “and Providence Plantations” on all official state documents and government agencies, according to NPR.
“We can’t ignore the image conjured by the word ‘plantations,’” Raimondo told a crowd. “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.”
“[Plantations] is associated with the ugliest institution that our country has ever had,” Raimondo added.
Interestingly, the inclusion of the word "plantations" in Rhode Island’s name didn't actually have anything to do with slavery. Roger Williams, founder of the Rhode Island colony and known slavery abolitionist, used the term "plantations" to refer to the colony’s status as a new British settlement.
A similar ballot initiative in 2010 to remove “and Providence Plantations” from Rhode Island’s name was rejected by voters by a margin of 55 percent.