BBC, June 11, 2020
Nascar has banned the display of the Confederate flag at its events.
The US-based motor-racing organisation said the presence of the flag at its events “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment” for fans and competitors.
Nascar’s only black full-time driver, Bubba Wallace, had called for the flag to be banned from racetracks where it had become a common sight.
“Get them out of here. They have no place for them, ” he told CNN.
The Confederate flag has been a common sight at Nascar circuits, particularly in the sport’s southern US heartland, but for many remains a symbol of slavery and racism.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a Nascar race. It starts with Confederate flags,” said 26-year-old Wallace.
Wallace, who in 2013, became the first black driver to win a Nascar event since Wendell Scott in 1963, has been vocal in support of protests following the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on 25 May.
On Wednesday, Wallace competed in a race at Martinsville with a new livery on his car featuring the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
The Confederate flag had once been embraced by Nascar, with the series staging the now renamed “Rebel 400” every year near Confederate Memorial Day, when the dead from the defeated Confederate army in the US Civil War are remembered.
However the flag’s association with white supremacists prompted Nascar chiefs to describe the flag as an “offensive and divisive” symbol following the murder of nine black Americans inside a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015.
But back then Nascar stopped short of banning the flag’s display altogether, however, instead setting up an exchange program where race-goers could exchange their Confederate flags for American ones.
In a statement on Wednesday, Nascar said: “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.”