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Rhode Island To Remove 'Providence Plantations' From State's Formal Name

Rhode Island will remove the phrase "Providence Plantations" in the state's formal name from some official documents and executive agency websites, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Monday in announcing an executive order.

The move comes after several weeks of meetings with community and youth leaders and is an effort to address racial inequities in the state following a national push for progress after George Floyd's killing last month, the Democratic governor said.

"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," Raimondo said in a statement. "Rhode Island was founded on the principles of acceptance and tolerance, and our state's name - and actions - should reflect those values."

Rhode Island was incorporated as The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations when it declared statehood in 1790.

There have been efforts to drop the "Providence Plantations" before by those who say it evokes the legacy of slavery.

Those calls have intensified recently as protesters across the country have called for racial justice since Floyd's May 25 death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Raimondo's order will remove the phrase "Providence Plantations" from gubernatorial orders and citations, executive agency websites, official correspondence, and state employee pay stubs.

Removing the phrase from the state's official name would have to be approved by the Legislature before being put before voters as a constitutional amendment.

In addition to the executive order, Raimondo has directed the state Department of Administration to institute mandatory implicit bias training for all executive branch employees and develop for more comprehensive equity training.

She also directed the Rhode Island State Police to form an outreach team to work with community leaders to find ways for police to better serve residents, and to develop a plan to equip all state police troopers with body-worn cameras.

The Department of Administration is also looking at state contracting practices to ensure that minority-owned businesses have an equal shot at landing state contracts, Raimondo's statement said.

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