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NASCAR and the Confederate Flag (A)
Freeman, R. Edward; Mead, Jenny Case E-0441 / Published December 13, 2021 / 14 pages.
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Product Overview

In May 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests that followed the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, leadership at the National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR), the American auto-racing company best known for stock-car racing, had to decide whether to ban the Confederate flag at its events. To many, the flag was emblematic of racism and a celebration of the Confederacy and its attempts, in the American Civil War, to retain the institution of slavery. Race attendees often carried the flag with them, it was emblazoned on clothes, souvenirs, and mugs, and some even tattooed it on themselves. The Confederate flag had been controversial for years, and NASCAR had tried to eliminate it and other racist symbols from its events, but to no avail. But this time was different: awareness of injustice and inequity had permeated the country’s social consciousness and people throughout America had taken to the streets to protest. Nonetheless, many NASCAR fans claimed the Confederacy flag was representative of "heritage, not hate" and threatened to boycott the sport if it were banned. Despite NASCAR's attempts to diversify both the organization and the audience, NASCAR's fan base remained decidedly conservative and, for the most part, tolerant of the flag's presence. NASCAR did not want to alienate its fan base, but leadership did want to change with the times and instill diversity in every aspect of the organization. It also did not want to put up roadblocks to attendee comfort—and for many current and potential fans, the Confederate flag's presence was a roadblock.


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  • Overview

    In May 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests that followed the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, leadership at the National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR), the American auto-racing company best known for stock-car racing, had to decide whether to ban the Confederate flag at its events. To many, the flag was emblematic of racism and a celebration of the Confederacy and its attempts, in the American Civil War, to retain the institution of slavery. Race attendees often carried the flag with them, it was emblazoned on clothes, souvenirs, and mugs, and some even tattooed it on themselves. The Confederate flag had been controversial for years, and NASCAR had tried to eliminate it and other racist symbols from its events, but to no avail. But this time was different: awareness of injustice and inequity had permeated the country’s social consciousness and people throughout America had taken to the streets to protest. Nonetheless, many NASCAR fans claimed the Confederacy flag was representative of "heritage, not hate" and threatened to boycott the sport if it were banned. Despite NASCAR's attempts to diversify both the organization and the audience, NASCAR's fan base remained decidedly conservative and, for the most part, tolerant of the flag's presence. NASCAR did not want to alienate its fan base, but leadership did want to change with the times and instill diversity in every aspect of the organization. It also did not want to put up roadblocks to attendee comfort—and for many current and potential fans, the Confederate flag's presence was a roadblock.

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