North Carolinians rank last in knowing their state motto, survey says

State News

(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – For those who live in North Carolina and think they know everything about the history of the state, listen up. The state ranks last in a recent survey seeing if people know their own state motto.

The survey found 87% of people in North Carolina don’t know the motto and another 84% named the same incorrect phrase, thinking it was the official state motto.

According to leaders at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the state motto was passed in Raleigh way back in 1893. The phrase still holds meaning there today.

The motto is on the state seal, but in Latin. When translated to English it means ‘to be, rather than to seem.’

“For us here in Raleigh we are in the middle of state government and I feel like we see it a lot,” said Terra Schramm, the Site Administrator at the NC State Capitol.

Outside of Raleigh, knowledge about the motto seems to be a different story. Out of the dozens of people FOX 46 asked in Uptown Charlotte, no one know the official state motto.

The motto, dating back more than 100 years, was created by Walter Clark, who at the time was Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. Clark found the Latin phrase from the Roman writer Cicero.

“I love that when the bill to introduce the motto came out the idea was to make sure the motto was expressive of some noble sentiment and indicative of a leading trait of the people,” said Schramm.

The people of North Carolina aren’t the only ones unaware of their own state motto. We found several visitors in Uptown from Texas, Virginia and New York who had no idea what their respective state motto was.

The survey found that 84% of people in North Carolina thought the state motto was “first in flight”. State leaders say that’s not the official state motto, but one used more for marketing purposes.

To see how all 50 states stack up in the survey click here.

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