The Confederate flag has long been a common sight at NASCAR races, particularly in the infield, where some fans fly the polarizing symbol alongside the U.S. flag and banners for their favorite drivers. On Wednesday, the stock-car racing organization announced it will no longer allow Confederate flags at its races.
“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,” NASCAR said in a statement. “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 races and events.”
The remarkable move comes as the country grapples with its racist history in light of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the nationwide protests it spawned. On Sunday, NASCAR aired a “listen and learn” video prior the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in which the sport’s current stars like Jimmie Johnson and Bubba Wallace joined icons like Dale Earnhardt Jr. in vowing to “condemn racial inequality and racism” and “advocate for change in our nations, our communities and, most importantly, in our own homes.”
Wallace, the association’s first full-time African American driver on the NASCAR Cup Series top circuit in nearly 50 years, sported a Black Lives Matter T-shirt before Sunday’s crowd-less race in Atlanta.