On Monday, Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order to change the name that appears on government documents and is moving forward with a bill to alter the state name entirely.
What We Know:
- The state of Rhode Island is moving to change its official name, “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” due to slavery connotations.
- “Many of the State’s residents find it painful that a word so closely associated with slavery should appear in the official name of the State,” Raimondo expressed. “The pain that this association causes to some of our residents should be of concern to all Rhode Islanders and we should do everything in our power to ensure that all communities can take pride in our State.”
- The state name will be shortened to “Rhode Island” and the word “plantations” will be removed from all state agency websites and official correspondence. Once the order is approved these changes will be effective “as soon as practicable”.
- The executive order addresses slavery ties and puts the issue as a referendum on the ballot in November. Over 7,300 people have signed a petition supporting the name change.
- “Our work to dismantle systemic racism in Rhode Island did not start today and it will not end today, but we can rise together and make meaningful progress toward racial equity now.” Governor Raimondo tweeted her thoughts on the order: “Rhode Island was founded on the principles of acceptance and tolerance, and our state’s name – and actions – should reflect those values.”
- The order does not change the state’s official name permanently. Voters will have to amend the Rhode Island Constitution.
Until the referendum, Rhode Island will not use their full name on the state official websites and official documents.