Nascar has finally banned the Confederate flag from all of its races and properties in response to the protests over George Floyd’s death and growing calls for action over racial inequality.
The American motorsport is distancing itself from what for many is a symbol of slavery and racism that had been a familiar sight at events over its 72-year history.
The decision is a major development for the sport which has its roots in the deep south where the flag is most commonly displayed.
In a statement Nascar said: “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 was supported by Bubba Wallace, Nascar’s only black driver, who took part in Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway in a No 43 Chevrolet with a #BlackLivesMatter paint scheme.
Wallace, who wore a black “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt said it had been a “stressful” couple of weeks.
He told FS1: “This is no doubt the biggest race of my career tonight. I’m excited about tonight. There’s a lot of emotions on the race track.”
Nascar has not yet specified how it would enforce the policy or what might happen to fans who bring the Confederate flag to the track.
The sport, which only restarted last month, has not raced with fans since its return.
The predominantly white field of drivers united over the weekend for a video promoting social change.
Nascar official, Kirk Price, took a knee before Sunday’s race near Atlanta in what may have been a first for the series, while Nascar president Steve Phelps addressed the drivers before last Sunday’s race vowing to do a better job of addressing racial injustice in the wake of Floyd’s death.
“Phelps and I have been in a contact a lot just trying to figure out what steps are next,” Wallace added. “That was a huge pivotal moment for the sport. [A] lot of backlash but it creates doors for the community to come together as one.”
On this day…
In 1880… Jeannette Rankin was born. Rankin was the first woman to be elected to U.S. Congress and helped pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
A lifelong pacifist, she championed multiple women’s and civil rights causes.
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