Question 1 would remove "Providence Plantations" from official state name references in the Preamble, Article III, and Article IX of the Rhode Island Constitution. The current official name of Rhode Island is the "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."
Other government officials have already removed "Plantations" from state and local documents. On June 19, 2020, the mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza (D), signed an executive order that removed "Plantations" from city documents and oath ceremonies. On June 22, 2020, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) issued an executive order that removed "Plantations" from all documents and stationery used by her office. She also ordered that all executive agencies under the governor's control remove "Plantations" from agency stationery, electronic letterhead, pay stubs, and all other mediums of communication.
Two versions of the amendment were introduced. Senate Resolution 2902 (S 2902) was introduced on June 17, 2020, by Sen. Harold Metts (D), Sen. Sandra Cano (D), Sen. Ana Quezada (D), Sen. Dominick Ruggerio (D), and Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D). On June 18, 2020, the state Senate passed S 2902 in a vote of 38-0. House Resolution 8077 (HR 8077) was sponsored in the state House by Democratic Representatives Anastasia Williams, Joseph Almeida, Joseph Solomon Jr., Karen Alzate, and Raymond Hull. On July 16, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed the measure in a vote of 69-1 with five not voting. On the same day, the state Senate concurred on HR 8077.
Rhode Island would be making history. As of August 2020, no state had ever voted on changing its name without some change in territory involved, such as the statehood of West Virginia. In 1949 and 1989, the North Dakota Legislature tried to pass a resolution to remove "North" from the state's official name, but both resolutions did not pass the state legislature.
Voters defeated Rhode Island Name Change Amendment, Question 1, in 2010 with 77.9 percent of voters deciding against the change. Question 1 was introduced by Representatives Joseph Almeida (D), Anastasia Williams (D), and Grace Diaz (D) on February 4, 2009. The measure would have changed the state's official name from "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" to "Rhode Island."
Much has happened in the last 10 years, and Rhode Island, by removing "Plantations" from the state name, can take one more step in addressing our state's connection to the slave trade.
Rhode Island United, Inc. is a registered 501(c)4 that has been formed to support the effort to pass ballot question 1. Board Members Include: Bill Lynch, Antionio Pires, and Anastasia Williams.
The campaign is being managed by Statecraft Strategies based in Providence.