A Confederate flag in Atlanta ahead of a NASCAR race in February 2018.

There have been plenty of sports teams and leagues speaking up about diversity and inclusion in response to the protests after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, but one of the most tangible actions yet comes from NASCAR. The organization announced Wednesday that they will be banning displays of the Confederate flag from their events and properties:

It’s notable that Wednesday night’s NASCAR race at Martinsville (the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500) will also feature black driver Bubba Wallace in a car with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme:

Wallace previously wore an “I Can’t Breathe/Black Lives Matter” shirt ahead of the previous Cup Series race (the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sunday in Atlanta), and he told CNN this week he’d like to see Confederate flags banned from races. Here’s a transcription via NPR’s Vanessa Romo:

“What I’m chasing is checkered flags, and that was kind of my narrative,” Wallace said in a Monday interview with CNN. “But diving more into it and educating myself, people feel uncomfortable with that, people talk about that — that’s the first thing they bring up.”

He added, “My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags. 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.”

The “Confederate flag” usually seen at events is the Confederate army’s battle flag, which was also incorporated (in smaller fashion) into the Confederate States of America’s “Stainless Banner” and “Blood-Stained Banner” flags in the later years of the U.S. Civil War. That battle flag has long been linked to NASCAR, and has been seen in countless variations at NASCAR races over the years (including at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February 2018; the photo at the top of this post is of a Confederate battle flag in the infield during qualifying for that race). So saying Confederate flags can’t be displayed at NASCAR events is a big step. And it’s one that suggests NASCAR is making some real changes.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.