Providence RI, June 18, 2020...At tonight’s City Council
meeting, Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) proposed two resolutions
around important issues to the community regarding race and the power of words
on our community.
The first resolution, co-sponsored by Councilmen Goncalves
(Ward 1), Correia (Ward 6), Igliozzi (Ward 7) and Councilwomen Miller (Ward 13)
and Ryan (Ward 5), calls on the Rhode Island General Assembly to revisit the
2009 referendum to remove “Providence Plantations” from the State of Rhode
Island’s official name.
“A lot has changed since 2009. Our Nation has had to mourn
the loss of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Breonna
Taylor, George Floyd and too many more black souls at the hands of police
brutality and racially motivated violence,” stated Council President Sabina
Throughout the Nation, many states have acted by removing
Confederate statues and memorials from their public spaces. While the State of
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was not named this way in direct
connection to slavery, the use of the word ‘plantation’ is insensitive to our
Nation’s dark history of slavery.
“By changing Rhode Island’s official name, we are not
forgetting our history; we are simply removing something that no longer
represents the values and morals that our State should embody. The history is
still there; we will never forget our role in the slavery and racist
institutions that have plagued our country for so long. But it is time for us
to make a change and move forward, with a name that better represents who we
would like to be,” added Council President Matos.
“Without acknowledging and learning from our past, and
without addressing those things within our control, we cannot move forward as a
City or a Nation towards a more equitable and just future,” continued Council
The second resolution urges Governor Gina Raimondo and the
Rhode Island General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing the Rhode Island
Department of Education to include African Heritage History in the K-12
curriculum in the 2021-2022 school years. In July of 2014, the 1696 Historical
Commission was signed into law and formed in order to form a comprehensive
African Heritage History curriculum for K-12 public school students.
Council President Matos continued, “African and African
American heritage is inextricably woven with our State’s history and identity.
Black Rhode Islanders have made innumerable contributions to our community
despite facing unique suffering and hardship. It would be extremely beneficial
for all Rhode Island students to have access to this rich history,”
The 1696 Commission created a curriculum with units covering
the many eras of black history in Rhode Island from 1696 to current times. The goal
of this curriculum is to not only design and implement an African and African
American history curriculum, but also to equip teachers to work with an
increasingly diverse student body, fully integrate the teaching of African
American history into the curriculum on a year-round basis and to establish
this curriculum as a necessary and long term part of the Rhode Island
Department of Education’s curriculum.
For more information, visit us online at council.providenceri.gov.