Bubba Wallace wore a shirt that read “I Can’t Breathe Black Lives Matter” before Sunday’s NASCAR race in Atlanta, and now the circuit’s only full-time African American Cup driver is pushing for change at the track.
“My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags,” Wallace told CNN on Monday. “No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
Wallace, who drives the No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports, recognizes his position will not sit well with some people.
“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 — we will have those conversations to remove those flags.”
Wallace, a 26-year-old native of Alabama, said he wasn’t always bothered by seeing Confederate flags.
“What I’m chasing is checkered flags, and that was kind of my narrative,” Wallace said, “but diving more into it and educating myself, people feel uncomfortable with that, people talk about that — that’s the first thing they bring up.”
When asked if he thought his opinion on the Confederate flag was an unpopular one, Wallace said he sees it as something the sport must take a strong stance on.
“We should not be able to have an argument over that,” he said. “It is a thick line we cannot cross anymore.”
NASCAR’s next race is Wednesday night at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.