Breaking with tradition, NASCAR bans Confederate flag at events

FILE - In this July 4, 2015, file photo, confederate and American flags fly on top of motor homes at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Bubba Wallace, the only African-American driver in the top tier of NASCAR, calls for a ban on the Confederate flag in the sport that is deeply rooted in the South. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) (Phelan M. Ebenhack)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Confederate flag, a prominent sight at NASCAR races for decades, is no longer welcome.

Not anymore.

NASCAR announced on Wednesday that the flag which has been a staple of pride for fans during races, will no longer be welcome at its events. It is the latest move to take away painful reminders of the past for African Americans. Dozens of Confederate monuments, including one in Jacksonville, have been removed because of their historical significance and incendiary meaning to African Americans.

“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,” NASCAR said in a statement.

The death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 has ignited change around the country, from peaceful protests calling for change to violence and unrest. Last week, the Jaguars walked from TIAA Bank Field to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to peacefully protest racial discrimination. Running back Leonard Fournette led a walk on Tuesday in town.

But no sport embodied the tradition of the deep South quite like NASCAR. The bulk of its drivers are white and the sport has long since been tied to the good ol’ boy mentality of the past. The Confederate flag was as attached to NASCAR more than anywhere else in the world of sports.

This week, Bubba Wallace, the sport’s lone black driver, told CNN that he thought the sport should rid tracks of the Confederate flag.

“My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags," he told CNN. “There should be no individual that is uncomfortable showing up to our events to have a good time with their family that feels some type of way about something they have seen, an object they have seen flying. 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.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.