On June 8, the only African American driver in the Cup Series of NASCAR called for the racing body to ban the display of Confederate flags from its races and events. On June 10, NASCAR announced that they will no longer allow the flag on their venues.
Changes in the events
NASCAR released a statement over the issue on its official website and stated that the display of Confederate flags at their events is contrary to their commitment to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all fans, as well as their competitors and their industry.
Just this week, the full-time African American driver who called for the ban, Bubba Wallace, talked to Don Lemon of CNN. He said that he wanted NASCAR to do more than what they did back in 2015 when they asked attendees not to bring the Confederate flags to races.
Wallace said that no one should feel uncomfortable when they come to NASCAR races and events, and if they won't change, they should start with banning the Confederate flags.
Before the race on June 10, which is the same day that NASCAR announced that they will ban the Confederate flag, Wallace talked to Fox Sports 1 and said that NASCAR made the right call. He also told Don Lemon during his interview that initially, the flag did not bother him but after he educated himself about the history of the flag, he already understands how uncomfortable it makes other people feel.
At a race on June 7, Wallace wore an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement has been protesting for almost two weeks and they have been calling for the end of police brutality and to address racism in the country.
On June 10, Wallace wore the shirt again. A week after the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer by kneeling on his neck for almost 9 minutes, NASCAR released a statement.
NASCAR stated that for the country to heal and move forward, everyone needs to listen more and be united in the fight against racism, senseless violence, hatred, and loss of life. NASCAR added that everyone must hold themselves accountable for driving positive change.
The flow of support
The mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, Vi Lyles, tweeted her appreciation for the ban of the flag and their statement about the death of Floyd. The Hall of Fame of NASCAR and nearly all sports teams are based in Charlotte.
The tennis legend Billie Jean King also tweeted her appreciation and said that the banning of the flag should have been done a long time ago. Dr. Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., also applauded the decision.
On June 10, Wallace raced using a black car with the words "Black Lives Matter" on it, he finished 11th. In 2013, Wallace became the first African American driver since Wendell Scott in 1963, he won an event that was sponsored by NASCAR at Martinsville, Virginia. Martinsville, Virginia is one of the race tracks where Confederate flags are usually brought by fans and are seen in the campgrounds and parking lots.
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