Brynn Anderson / AP
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, the first full-time African American driver on the NASCAR circuit in over 45 years, has not always been offended by the Confederate flag.
But now he wants them to be banished from all races.
The 26-year-old Alabama player said he was making efforts to find out what the flag means to many people. Presumably, for some, it has become an emblem of white supremacy and is a reminder of the history of American slaves, bigotry and the oppression of African Americans.
“What I’m chasing are checkered flags, and that was sort of my story,” Wallace said in a Monday interview with CNN. “But by diving deeper and being educated, people feel uncomfortable with that, people talk about it – that’s the first thing they talk about. ”
He added, “My next step would be to get rid of all the Confederate flags. No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with the Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them. “”
The red flag with blue bars and white stars, which the Sons of Confederate Veterans have adopted as a symbol of Southern heritage, has been linked to NASCAR almost since its inception. For decades, the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina hosted the Rebel 400 in the spring and highlighted the flag in programs and other advertisements, while playing the soundtrack at pre-race ceremonies.
However, over the years he has become a bit of an albatross for the stock car racing association. In 2015, after a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans inside a church in Charleston, South Carolina, NASCAR CEO and President Brian France called the flag “an offensive symbol and source of division ”.
Despite the commitment to dissociate NASCAR from the rebel battle flag, the association did not go so far as to ban it from the stands. Instead, he “asked” people to stop bringing them to the races and set up a flag exchange program where participants could exchange their Confederate flag for an American flag.
And as protests have raged in recent weeks, with thousands of protesters against police brutality – particularly against blacks at the hands of white officers – NASCAR has launched a campaign for racial equality and diversity.
Anyway, Wallace said further action on the flags is expected, although he conceded that the move would likely result in a backlash from the fans.
“There will be many angry people who will proudly carry these flags, but it is time to change,” he said. “We need to change that, and I encourage NASCAR to have these conversations to remove these flags. ”
Those who disagree can “get back on the road to where you come from,” said Wallace.
“We shouldn’t be able to argue about it,” he said. “It is a thick line that we can no longer cross. “