In a move that sent shockwaves across sports, NASCAR announced on Wednesday (June 10) that the Confederate flag, an often popular item to display at races across the county, would no longer be allowed. The news comes two days after Bubba Wallace, currently the only African-American full-time driver in NASCAR, called for the racing league to ban all Confederate flags at racetracks.
NASCAR put out a statement saying, “The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
Since the death of George Floyd while in the hands of police custody in Minneapolis, protests have occurred across the globe and Confederate monuments – most of whom stood in the South, NASCAR’s traditional home, as well as those of Christopher Columbus, have been taken down or vandalized.
On Monday, Wallace told CNN that he would like for the flag to be banned. “My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags,” he said. “No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
On Wednesday, he commended the move.
“Props to NASCAR and everybody involved,” he told Fox Sports 1, who were broadcasting the race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.
He added, “[NASCAR president Steve] Phelps and I have been in contact a lot, just trying to figure out what steps are next, and that was a huge pivotal moment. A lot of backlash for the sport, but it creates doors and allows the community to come together as one. And that’s what the real mission is here. So I’m excited about that, and just gonna keep going on tonight.”
Wallace is set to drive a car with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme in the race to promote racial equality.