NASCAR will no longer allow the Confederate flag to be displayed at any of its events, ending an association, whether direct or indirect, with an emotionally charged symbol that some view as heritage and others view as hate.
Confederate flags have been flown by fans at NASCAR races throughout the Southern-based sport’s history.
NASCAR stated Wednesday:
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.”
The move comes after Bubba Wallace said earlier this week on CNN that it was time to “get rid of all Confederate flags” at NASCAR races because “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.”
His comments came a few days after NASCAR drivers posted a video on social media calling for an end to racial inequality and racism after the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day while in custody of the Minneapolis police.
Before last Sunday’s Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, series officials stopped the cars near the start/finish line. NASCAR President Steve Phelps then issued a statement that included:
“Our country is in pain and people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard. The black community and all people of color have suffered in our country and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better.”
After Phelps spoke, there were 30 seconds of silence before the event resumed.
In an interview Wednesday on the “Rich Eisen Show” on NBCSN, Jimmie Johnson said of the Confederate flag: “I support Bubba, and I support NASCAR that the Confederate flag should not be … at our race tracks.”
In 2015, NASCAR asked fans to refrain from displaying the Confederate flag at its races, releasing a statement signed by tracks. The statement came a day after Daytona International Speedway announced it would offer a flag exchange before the July race.
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— Steve O'Donnell (@odsteve) June 10, 2020