August 13, 2016

First in Freedom

“First in Flight” license plate
While driving around town today, I found myself behind a car with a North Carolina license plate. For many years, North Carolina plates have carried the legend “First in Flight,” a reference to the Wright brothers flight experiments near Kitty Hawk. (Whether the Wrights were the first inventors to fly a heavier-than-air vehicle is an issue I don’t want to get into.)

“First in Freedom” license plate
The license plate on the North Carolina car I saw did not carry the “First in Flight” logo. Instead, it proclaimed “First in Freedom.” What was less visible while driving in traffic were two dates at the top edge of the plate. The dates were May 20, 1775, and April 20, 1776. The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles explains that these are the dates the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolves, respectively, were signed.

I have to admit that the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolves were not the first things that popped into my mind when I saw “First in Freedom.” What I thought of was the gerrymandering by the North Carolina General Assembly and the various laws it has passed recently to make it harder for people (especially people would don’t look like the white folks in the North Carolina General Assembly) to vote or to use the most logical public restroom.

North Carolina may have been first in freedom chronologically, but it is at the back of the pack when it comes to actually delivering freedom to its citizens. Apparently, the irony was lost of the state’s legislators. Now, North Carolina should have a “First in Discrimination” license plate. Or a new General Assembly.

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