One hundred and fifty-five years after the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia surrendered, the storied battle flag that was its emblem during the Civil War and that has been the backdrop for thousands of NASCAR photos over the years has been banned from NASCAR tracks.
“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 Wednesday in a statement posted on its website.
“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 action came two days after Bubba Wallace, the only full-time black driver on the top NASCAR circuit, called for NASCAR to ban the emblem of the Confederacy, which has also been attacked as a symbol of racism.
“My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags,” he said. “Get them out of here.”
“My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags,” says NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace after throwing his support behind the nationwide protests against police brutality. “Get them out of here.” https://t.co/Kf4CrMLLGh pic.twitter.com/wSSBhByguS
— CNN (@CNN) June 9, 2020
Wallace said that the presence of the flag didn’t use to bother him, but that the time has come to ban it.
“There’s going to be a lot of angry people that carry those flags proudly but it’s time for change,” he said.
One of the angry people was Ray Ciccarelli, who drives part-time in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
In a Facebook post, he said he will drive no more because of NASCAR’s action.
“Well its been a fun ride and dream come true but if this is the direction Nascar is headed we will not participate after 2020 season is over , i don’t believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love. I could care less about the Confederate Flag but there are ppl that do and it doesn’t make them a racist all you are doing is f—— one group to cater to another and i ain’t spend the money we are to participate in any political BS!! So everything is for SALE!! Sarah Ciccarelli,” the post read.
Debate raged on Twitter.
NASCAR fans explode with anger over Confederate flag ban: ‘Good luck on filling those stands’ – https://t.co/mKNPGYBDdX
— Kenny_ANTI_gop (@Hope012015) June 10, 2020
This orator also condemns @BubbaWallace for injecting politics into @NASCAR. He can plug #BlackLivesMatter away from the track. Get that mess off his car! He & NASCAR may rest assured I’ll not support that organization until they reverse course. Allow the #Confederate flag now-!
— Marcus Tullius Cicero, Cos. ?️ (@MarcvsTvlCicero) June 10, 2020
Good! Confederate flag & confederate monuments belong in museums or trash-bins, not our streets. This isn’t about heritage. They honor defense of slavery. Plain and simple. Wanna honor your heritage? Hang a picture of your great-grandfather on your wall. https://t.co/6niomGF2j9?
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) June 10, 2020
KAEPERNICK SHOULDN’T KNEEL! DON’T BRING POLITICS INTO SPORTS! IT’S DIVISIVE!
WHAT?!?! OF COURSE, I’M BRINGING MY CONFEDERATE FLAG TO NASCAR EVENTS! HOW DARE YOU STOP ME? FREE SPEECH!
— Wajahat “Social Distance Yourself” Ali (@WajahatAli) June 10, 2020
NASCAR sought to ban Confederate flags in 2015, but gave way after protests from fans.
On Wednesday, Wallace unveiled a Black Lives Matter paint job for his car.
— JOURDAN (@jourdanwms) June 9, 2020
“I think the two fists — the black fist and the white fist — going hand in hand speaks volumes, says a lot. Has a lot of power behind it,” Wallace said, according to a news release posted on NASCAR’s website.
CORRECTION, July 2, 2020: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Confederate battle flag as the “Stars and Bars,” which is the nickname for the first official national flag of the Confederacy.
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