Washington D.C. – As racial inequality conversations intensify, five states have voted in favor of removing racial words, phrases, and symbols from state constitutions. Additionally, Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Nebraska are spearheading the language of change within their judicial systems.
Utah and Nebraska residents agree that their states should do away with “slavery” as a term within their respective constitutions. Further, the states’ guidelines referring to slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments are no longer on the books.
The earlier designation of the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” has changed. Furthermore, the state eliminated the phrase “Providence Plantations” from Rhode Island’s constitution. 53 percent of the state’s residents approve of the measure.
In a statement, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo notes that the state stands for equality and inclusion. “This is an important step in our ongoing fight to address the systemic racism that’s plagued our state.” Also, Raimondo acknowledges that the issue has been in Rhode Island and the United States for centuries.
In the Southeast, even the state of Mississippi is responding to the headwinds of change. Interestingly, the state’s voters got a chance to vote “yes” against a Jim Crow-era law from 1890. Candidates no longer need a 122-vote majority in Mississippi’s House of Representatives to win an election. Besides, in 1890, legislators wanted to make it virtually impossible for a Black candidate to defeat Whites in state elections.
In another sign of changing times, Mississippi voters approved a new state flag after a 71/28 percent landslide. Moreover, the new flag, with an image of a magnolia flower, replaces the former confederate symbol. Also, the flag bears the words, “In God We Trust.”
Similarly, Jim Crow measures from the Alabama constitution are now gone.
The state eliminated inappropriate and dated language and phrases. In 2004 and 2012, there were similar but unsuccessful repeal attempts on the ballots.
Democratic legislator, Merika Coleman, sponsored the bill to remove the racist language. Additionally, before the election, she shared her thoughts about the proposed legislation. “It would send a message to the nation that we are no longer the Alabama of 1901.”
Will other states follow suit and lobby to remove racist phrases and symbols from their state historical documents?
Thumbnail Credit: Rogerio V. Solis/AP Photo (images may be subject to copyright)
- “Utah Election Preliminary Results”
- “Nebraska Secretary of State – Election Night Results – November 3rd, 2020”
- “Rhode Island Election Results”
- “Mississippi Election Results”
- Mississippi Ballot Measure 3, State Flag Referendum (2020)
- “Alabama Amendment 4, Authorize Legislature to Recompile the State Constitution Measure (2020)” ballotpedia.org
- “Mississippi voter information” – mscenterforjustice.org
- Rhode Island Governor – @GovRaimondo on Twitter