NASCAR is the latest professional sports and entertainment group to see its athletes supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The move was spearheaded by professional race car driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., who wore an “I can’t breathe” shirt in solidarity with protesters marching nationwide over the May 25 death of George Floyd.
Following his viral moment, Wallace recently called for Confederate flags to be removed and banned from racetracks.
CNN reports that Wallace, the first full-time African American driver in the Cup Series since 1971, says that the next steps for the racing league should be to rid stadiums of Confederate flags.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with Confederate flags,” Wallace told CNN’s Don Lemon. “Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
He said that at the start of his career, the flag did not concern him. After learning more about the flag and its history, Wallace is calling for its ban at racetracks.
“There’s going to be a lot of angry people that carry those flags proudly but it’s time for change,” he said. “We have to change that, and I encourage NASCAR to have those conversations to remove those flags.”
Wallace’s comments follow multiple NASCAR drivers speaking out against institutionalized racism in the U.S.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 7, 2020
NASCAR’s stand against racism is one of several to come out recently in the sporting world. U.S. Soccer is considering repealing the policy ordering players to stand during the national anthem, and multiple people in the NFL have spoken out in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in 2016, a gesture with renewed importance after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck during his arrest and ultimately killed him.
Other Confederate iconography is being removed amid national protests. In states like Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama, memorials of Confederate soldiers are coming down as demonstrators call its public presence into question.