Friday, June 26, 2009

Little Rhody

All you Rhode Islanders out there probably know this bit of trivia: Rhode Island is the littlest state with the longest name--the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. But that may be a bit of historical trivia if lawmakers get their way. There's a push to drop the "Providence Plantations" part due to connotations of slavery. Rep. Joseph Almeida, who sponsored the bill, said:

"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."

Should RI ignore its connection with slavery? No way. Slavery happened all over the US, not just in the South. But my opinion lies more with opponents, who say that at the time, the word 'plantations' meant farming settlements, not necessarily connected with slavery. Additionally, one definition Merriam-Webster lists is: "a settlement in a new country or region," which, considering the history of Roger Williams, seems more appropriate for Rhode Island. (Heck yeah religious freedom!) Changing Rhode Island's name seems to be going a little far to touch on the state's history involving slavery.

Of course, as long as the don't touch the Del's, I'll be all right.


Jill said...

I'm with you, fellow Rhode Islander! Though no one ever uses the full name and it's just really a piece of fun trivia at this point, I never thought that the term "Providence Plantations" was indicative of slavery. While I am fully aware that slavery happened in our state, I think that changing the state's name is akin to voting to strike the word "plantation" from the English language.