Bubba Wallace Wants NASCAR to Ban the Confederate Flag

Bubba Wallace Wants NASCAR to Ban the Confederate Flag

Bubba Wallace Wants NASCAR to Ban the Confederate Flag

Bubba Wallace Wants NASCAR to Ban the Confederate Flag

NASCAR began asking fans to stop bringing Confederate battle flags to races in 2015, after photos circulated online of the white man who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., posing with the flag.

But many in NASCAR’s predominately white Southern fan base have ignored the request and brought the flag anyway, hoisting it atop campers and R.V.s on fields around racetracks.

On Monday, following days of nationwide protests calling for an end to racism and police brutality, Darrell Wallace Jr., the first black driver in 50 years to win one of NASCAR’s top three national touring series, called on NASCAR to ban the flags outright.

“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race,” Mr. Wallace, who is known as Bubba, told Don Lemon of CNN. “So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”

It was among the latest pushes to have the flag removed from prominent display as state officials faced growing pressure to take down Confederate statues and other monuments that many consider symbols of racism.

On Friday, the Marine Corps issued a statement that gave detailed instructions for how to remove and ban public displays of the Confederate battle flag at Marine installations.

In a more modest move, the Army has said it would consider renaming bases named for military leaders of the Confederacy.

NASCAR and the Confederate battle flag were once seen as entwined. The flag has been ubiquitous at places like Darlington Raceway in Florence, S.C., where the annual Southern 500 is held and where fans often showcased the emblem on baseball caps, coolers and T-shirts. But as NASCAR has tried to broaden its fan base and expand to other parts of the country, leaders and drivers have pushed for more diversity in the sport and tried to show solidarity with people of color.

NASCAR representatives did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment. On Sunday, at a race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR’s president, Steve Phelps, delivered a message over the loudspeaker in which he urged fans and NASCAR drivers to recognize the pain black people and other people of color “have suffered in our country.”

“Our country is in pain and people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard,” he said, as drivers and crew members lowered their heads, some of them wiping away tears or holding T-shirts that said “Black Lives Matter.” “It has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better.”

Mr. Wallace, who competed in Sunday’s race and wore a shirt that read “I Can’t Breathe/Black Lives Matter,” praised NASCAR leaders for those actions. His comments about the flag on Monday followed a question from Mr. Lemon about what drivers and the organization should do now.

“My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags,” Mr. Wallace said.

He said that in the past he had not been bothered by the flag.

“I chase checkered flags,” he said. But Mr. Wallace said that he had dived into the discussion around the emblem and that he understood why many were disturbed by the Confederate battle flag.

He said he would talk to NASCAR officials and encourage them to get rid of the flags at races and other events.




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