“State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” Considering Name Change

“A push to drop “Providence Plantations” from that name advanced farther than ever on Thursday when House lawmakers voted 70-3 to let residents decide whether their home should simply be called the “State of Rhode Island.” It’s an encouraging sign for those who believe the formal name conjures up images of slavery, while opponents argue it’s an unnecessary rewriting of history that ignores Rhode Island’s tradition of religious liberty and tolerance.

The bill permitting a statewide referendum on the issue next year now heads to the state Senate.

“It’s high time for us to recognize that slavery happened on plantations in Rhode Island and decide that we don’t want that chapter of our history to be a proud part of our name,” said Rep. Joseph Almeida, an African-American lawmaker who sponsored the bill….

…Still, Stanley Lemons, a professor emeritus of history at Rhode Island College, said changing the state’s name ignores the accomplishments of Williams, whose government passed laws trying to prevent the permanent servitude of whites, blacks and American Indians.

“There are different meanings for this word,” Lemons said. “To try to impose their experience on everyone else wipes out Roger Williams.””

Full article: Rhode Island Slavery Legacy Prompting Name Change.

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