With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. These stories were originally published December 21, 2006 and was written by Janet Denk.
Back in the day, a young black kid from Matthews had the choice of two high schools to attend - Second Ward or West Charlotte High, both in Charlotte. Harvey Boyd chose the latter for its art department. That choice would pay off, as Boyd became a skilled graphic artist who went on to attend Howard University, then later, travel and lives the good life. When he was 21 years old, “on a whim” Boyd entered a contest sponsored by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Out of the seven finalists in the 1964 contest, Boyd’s work was selected to become the Mecklenburg County seal.
The County government is undergoing a logo redesign for branding purposes, but folks making the final decisions are intent on preserving the original design because it remains representative of the County nearly 50 years later.
The image on the seal includes four aspects of Mecklenburg County and it still holds up. “The seal is as relative today as it was back then,” said County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts. She, along with many others in the community, appreciate the origins of the seal design: that fresh out of the segregationist days of the old south, a young black kid from the country is selected by a powerful board of local leaders to document and preserve the history of the county.
“I thought I could contribute something,” the young man told the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners in 1964 after receiving the honor. He’s still trying to make a contribution, which is why he’s been before the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners to offer his consulting services, should the design team need a little help.
Boyd never received any royalties for his work, despite the fact that he owns the patent on the design. He doesn’t want his contribution to be in vain.
That’s not likely to happen, his supporters say. The fact that a County Seal can say so much, from a guy who could’ve claimed so little and have it last so long - is admirable.
“That says an awful lot about the spirit of this place,” explained Juan Williams, owner and operator of Queen City Tours who’s given more than his fair share of history lessons to natives and tourists alike. “It’s part of what makes the history of this place so interesting to so many people.” The seal is on vehicles, stationery, websites, and government paperwork. Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones Sr. has assured folks that Boyd will be included in a logo redesign, should the need arise.