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Second to none, NC now offers choice of 2 ‘First’ license plates

The “First in Freedom” license plate was introduced as an option for North Carolina drivers on July 1, 2015, by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.
The “First in Freedom” license plate was introduced as an option for North Carolina drivers on July 1, 2015, by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.

If North Carolina’s 33-year-old “First in Flight” license plate no longer strikes your fancy, try “First in Freedom.”

Car owners now can choose between the two boasts to declare their state second to none.

The state Division of Motor Vehicles introduced the new “First in Freedom” plate Wednesday. It’s decorated with a quill pen and the dates of two North Carolina events from the early days of the American Revolution:

▪  May 20, 1775 – The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, claimed as the first Colonial statement of separation from Great Britain. It was signed in Charlotte by delegates from local militia companies a few weeks after the battles of Lexington and Concord, the first military engagements of the Revolutionary War.

▪  April 12, 1776 – The Halifax Resolves. Meeting in the town of Halifax, the 83 members of North Carolina’s provincial congress adopted the resolves to encourage a push for independence by all 13 colonies. Three months later, the Declaration of Independence was ratified in Philadelphia.

Although some historians question the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declaration, the two Revolutionary dates also are featured on North Carolina’s official flag and seal.

A plain-text “First in Freedom” plate was the only option offered by DMV from 1975 to 1979, but it sparked controversy among North Carolinians who disavowed its message.

Two men were prosecuted in 1975 for obscuring the “Freedom” slogan with tape. “No Southern state was first in freedom for blacks,” said Navy veteran James Flowers of Hillsborough. The case was dropped after the state attorney general said such charges were unconstitutional.

“First in Flight,” marking the Wright brothers’ accomplishment in 1903 at Kill Devil Hills, has been the standard message on North Carolina license plates since 1982.

Now, under legislation approved last year, DMV is giving North Carolinians a choice between the two slogans when they renew registration.

Car owners who can’t wait for a free one may buy a new plate for $15 at any time, with either message, at a local DMV license plate agency.

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