Calls to Drop Word “Plantation” Gain Steam Nationwide “It’s a slap in the face. It’s painful”

Dharyl Auguste appeared on CNN last month where he discussed his petition to have the city of Plantation, Florida renamed.

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Yahoo reports when Dharyl Auguste was 3 years old, he and his parents packed all of their belongings and left their home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to immigrate to the United States.

The family settled initially in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before moving to nearby Sunrise. When it was time for Auguste to attend middle school, he and his parents relocated again, this time to Plantation, Florida. Auguste welcomed the move, he said, because it was easier for him to see his friends and access public transportation.

But something was not right in Plantation.

“It often came up as a topic between me and friends, and we all had the same feeling that it’s not a welcoming name,” Auguste, 27, said.

In the weeks since the George Floyd protests began, neighborhoods and subdivisions across the country have removed the word “plantation” from their names. In June, Rhode Island — known formally as the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations — announced that it would drop the second half of its official name from state documents and websites. (State lawmakers have introduced legislation that would put a name-change referendum on the ballot in November.)

Inspired by the social unrest spurred by the death of Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground by the neck for more than eight minutes, Auguste started a petition to change the name of Plantation.

“I was at home sitting in awe as our nation was going through a social awakening,” he said in an interview this past week. According to Auguste, images of toppled monuments to slaveholders and Confederate generals fueled him to take action. The petition he created June 7 has been signed more than 11,000 times.

Strictly speaking, the word “plantation” refers to a large group of plants or trees in a settlement. But the association with slavery is inescapable.

“We can’t ignore the image conjured by the word ‘plantation,’” Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island said last month. “We can’t ignore how painful that is for Black Rhode Islanders to see that and have to see that as part of their state’s name. It’s demoralizing. It’s a slap in the face. It’s painful.”

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