WASHINGTON — The only African American driver in NASCAR's top series says he's working to rid racetracks completely of the confederate flag.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace has been outspoken since the death of George Floyd ignited protests and a global racial justice dialogue. He even wore an "I Can't Breathe" t-shirt before last Sunday's race in Atlanta.
Wallace spoke Monday night to CNN's Don Lemon and said "NASCAR has stepped up to the plate big time, they have reached out, the high ups at NASCAR, every single one of them have reached out."
"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've seen, an object they have seen flying. No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with confederate flags," Wallace said. "Get them out of here. They have no place for them."
Wallace acknowledged that he knows there's going to be a lot of angry people that carry the confederate flag proudly, but he believes it's time for change.
"We have to change that, and I encourage NASCAR to have those conversations to remove those flags," Wallace added.
Before Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR paused to acknowledge the racial justice fight, and vowed to commit to better addressing issues of racial injustice in the country.
All forty cars came to a stop in front of the grandstands, empty because of coronavirus pandemic regulations, and turned off their engines so that NASCAR president Steve Phelps could speak.
Phelps said “our sport must do better."
NASCAR's president went on to say “our country is in pain and people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard. The black community and all people of color have suffered in our country, and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better.”
A black NASCAR official also took a knee on pit road during Sunday's pre-race events, mimicking a gesture used by protesters in tribute to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“The time is now to listen, to understand and to stand against racism and racial injustice,” Phelps said at Sunday's race. "We ask our drivers ... and all our fans to join us in this mission, to take a moment of reflection, to acknowledge that we must do better as a sport, and join us as we now pause and take a moment to listen.”
After George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and other officers who stood by, massive protests were sparked in all 50 states and around the world as people demanded an end to police brutality against people of color.