Rhode Island voters have chosen to remove “Plantation” from the state’s name. A year later, he remains exposed

PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) – Rhode Island removed “Providence Plantations” from its name a year ago, but not from its buildings.

Providence Plantations is written in script in marble near the dome of the State House and on bronze plaques in the entrance. The state seal with the old full name can be found on the rotunda floor, elevator doors, door numbers and directional signs. It’s even on the carpet in front of George Washington’s portrait in the state room.

Voters chose to remove the words “and Providence Plantations” from Rhode Island’s official name a year ago by approving a state-wide referendum, which was revived as the nation counts with injustice race after the murder of George Floyd. The word “Plantations” did not specifically refer to a place where slaves worked, but supporters of the measure insisted that it provoked such images and was offensive.

Democrat Gina Raimondo signed an executive order in June 2020, while she was governor, to change pay checks for state employees and the websites of executive agencies. Voters approved the referendum in November 2020.

Since then, the state has changed official websites, business cards, and paychecks for state employees. New letterhead is used and citations are issued with the new state seal.

READ MORE: Voters Remove Providence Plantations from Rhode Island’s Official Name

The administration is still in the process of taking an inventory of where the wording still exists, as well as determining potential costs and best practices for the removal, administration officials under Governor Dan McKee said. A working group will meet before the end of the year to develop goals for next year.

State Representative Anastasia Williams, a Democrat from Providence, lobbied to change the state’s name. Now, she says there are other extremely serious issues that state leaders must address – the ongoing pandemic, the growing number of homeless people, the need to welcome immigrants and refugees. and an education system that has failed children of color.

“I don’t take anything away from its importance, but where it is a priority for me, we have already won this battle and we know it has to be done,” Williams said last week. “We have some serious stuff at our fingertips that aren’t even being taken seriously.”

The remaining displays of the old name may be an opportunity to start conversations about what voters voted for and why, she added.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is the keeper of the state seal and uses a new embosser to apply the redesigned state seal to official documents.

Gorbea is running for governor. If elected, she said she would make sure there is a plan to remove the old name from the toughest places, especially the State House Rotunda Seal, as many people see it. the low.

“This is the change the voters wanted and so we should have, at a minimum, a plan,” Gorbea said. “If it hasn’t been done, why not? But if it can be done, let’s do it.

In early November, officials from the State Administration Department said they would share the inventory of where the old state name was written and the costs of changing it, but this week it was not had not provided this accounting to the Associated Press. In the DOA building, the old state seal appears on the front desk and on the room directory.

Rhode Island was incorporated as the state of Rhode Island and the Plantations of Providence when it declared statehood in 1790. In 2010, nearly eight in ten voters rejected the short name in a poll. referendum.

Gorbea said she worries people will become cynical if they vote for the change, but the screens most exposed to the public remain the same.

“The state has changed,” she said, “times have changed and the government has to change to adapt to this. “

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