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Rhode Island votes to change state’s controversial official name

Rhode Island is no longer the “smallest state with the longest name.”

Voters in the Ocean State, formerly known as “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” approved a ballot measure to remove “and Providence Plantations” from the state’s official name.

The referendum was introduced in the state senate by Rhode Island’s sole Black senator, Harold Metts, in the wake of the George Floyd protests earlier this year. At the time, Metts called the name “a hurtful term to so many of us” due to the word “plantation” and its connotations of slavery.

Early results show that 52.9 percent of voters approved the change.

Previous attempts to change the state’s name failed, including a 2010 referendum which was struck down by 78 percent of voters.

Officials say they plan in the coming weeks to assess all state property in order to remove the words “Providence Plantations” – including on the 116-year old State House’s grand marble facade.

Earlier this year, Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order removing “Providence Plantations” from all communications coming from the governor’s office.

Rhode Island’s name change joins a growing list of other successful ballot measures this year, including legalized marijuana in five states and a new flag for Mississippi.

With Post Wires

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