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Meet The Man Who Designed NC's 'First In Freedom' License Plate

first_in_freedom_license_plate.jpg
NC DMV

During this Fourth of July week, North Carolina has begun offering a new standard license plate. In addition to First in Flight, drivers can now choose First in Freedom.

The slogan pays tribute to North Carolina's early push as a colony to break from Great Britain.

The man who designed the new plates, Charles Robinson, says this all started for him with a box of cereal when he was 10 years old.  

"Honey Comb cereal had miniature license plates as prizes, and so I went through two boxes of cereal every week trying to get as many plates, different states as I could," he says with a laugh.

Robinson grew up in Troy, about 60 miles east of Charlotte. Eventually, he started collecting real license plates and now has about 500.

He's also an amateur historian. He included two pivotal dates in North Carolina history on the license plates: May 20, 1775 and April 12, 1776.

"Why North Carolina is 'First in Freedom' is due to the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and also the Halifax Resolves," he says. "Those are the first really official documents from any of the colonies to pursue independence from British rule."

There's actually a controversy about the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, also known as the "Meck Dec." There's circumstantial evidence supporting its existence, but a local historian says the original document was eventually lost in a fire.

The Halifax Resolves, on the other hand, are more widely considered the first call for total independence.

Robinson says he hopes the new license plates will encourage people to learn more about both events.    

"Those dates are on our state flag and our state seal, and sadly, I'm sure most people out there would not be able to tell you what those dates are," he says.

North Carolinians can choose the new design for free when they register or renew their registrations.

The state Department of Transportation says in the first day they were available, nearly 2,500 people chose First in Freedom.