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Providence Plantations: Exploring the History and Meanings of Rhode Island’s State Name

Full recording of “Providence Plantations: Exploring the History & Meanings of Rhode Island’s State Name.” Center for Reconciliation, October 29, 2020.

On October 29, 2020 at 4:30 pm, over 110 participants joined the Center for Reconciliation and guest speakers via Zoom to discuss the history and meanings of Rhode Island’s state name.

Sparked by the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot initiative to remove “Providence Plantations” from the state name, the program explored why the phrase is in Rhode Island’s state name; the history of settler colonialism in Rhode Island, and the development of plantations in the state where enslaved people lived and worked; and the meanings the state name now holds for different communities. 

Speakers shared critical historical information and contemporary insights, and responded to incisive and wide-ranging questions submitted by the audience. 

Speakers (in order of remarks):

  • Julia Renaud, Program Manager & Curator, Center for Reconciliation (moderator)
  • Prof. Joanne Pope Melish, author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860
  • Silvermoon LaRose, Assistant Director, Tomaquag Museum, Exeter, RI
  • Sal Monteiro, Jr., Senior Nonviolence Facilitator, Nonviolence Institute, Providence, RI
  • Ray Rickman, Executive Director, Stages of Freedom, Providence, RI and former Rhode Island Deputy Secretary of State.