Confederate flag officially banned by NASCAR at events

The racing organization said it is committed to a welcoming environment.

The infield and grandstands will look very different at NASCAR races after the sport announced it has banned the presence of the Confederate flag at all events.

NASCAR released a statement on Wednesday, saying, "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."

"The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties," the statement continued.

The move came just one day after driver Bubba Wallace, 26, called for action from the racing league to remove the offensive flags. Wallace is the only black driver in the Cup Series, NASCAR's highest level.

Wallace, who ran Wednesday's race at Martinsville for Richard Petty Motorsports in a Black Lives Matter paint scheme for the 43 car, has been outspoken on racial issues in the sport.

"This statement that we have right here -- running this race car, being on live television -- I think it's going to speak volumes for what I stand for, but also what the initiative that NASCAR, the whole sport, is trying to push," he said in a video for RPM on Twitter.

Wallace hailed support from fans and other professional athletes, including NBA star LeBron James.

The Confederate flag has a long history of being flown at races on camper trailers, RVs, coolers and even seen on hats of NASCAR fans since the sport's inception. While the sport has spread to tracks all over the country, it has always held close ties to the South. NASCAR and all of its teams are headquartered in North Carolina.

NASCAR returned to action last month, but will not allow the general public to attend races until June 21 at Talladega, Alabama. There will be 5,000 fans allowed to attend the race; they will be required to maintain social distancing and wear face coverings.

The flag, also known as "stars and bars," was used by the Confederacy after seceding from the Union in 1861 -- prompting the Civil War -- in a bid to uphold slavery. Most arguments defending the flag, whether it be at sporting events or in state Capitols, have centered on it being about Southern pride as opposed to its Civil War ancestry.

"The Sons of Confederate Veterans adopted the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage but the flag also served as a potent symbol of slavery and white supremacy, which has caused it to be very popular among white supremacists in the 20th and 21st centuries," according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The White House told ABC News it had no comment on NASCAR's decision to ban the flag. President Donald Trump attended the Daytona 500 in February and said Wednesday he "would not even consider" renaming military bases currently named after Confederate leaders.

NASCAR's announcement comes on the heels of calls for racial justice and systemic change around the country in the wake of George Floyd's death at Minneapolis police.

This report was featured in the Thursday, June 11, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

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