Despite NASCAR officials requesting that fans restrain from bringing Confederate flags to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona, Florida, over the Fourth of July weekend, the controversial flag still flew.
In the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina, massacre, in which a white supremacist allegedly killed nine African-Americans in a church, several major retailers pulled the Confederate flag from their inventories and ceased all association with the symbol.
NASCAR chose to request that fans voluntarily keep the flags away from future events as opposed to banning the flag, prompting “dozens” of people to fly it in the stands at the race — the first since the Charleston shooting.
“It kills me that NASCAR is jumping on the bandwagon,” attendee Paul Stevens said, reported The Huffington Post. “They should just let it pass, let everything die down. But NASCAR is too quick to try to be politically correct like everybody else."
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“It's just our heritage and our Southern way of life. And it makes us happy when we're able to show something that represents us,” attendee Jason Clark added. “People with the Confederate flag are not just going to give it away."
Other NASCAR fans told reporters the flag, despite its history of both Confederate army and white supremacist associations, has nothing to do at all with slavery.
“I think it’s getting a bum rap,” Florida resident John Wilson said, reports The Washington Post. “Everybody else is getting to fly their flags in the United States of America and have their heritage. Why can’t I have mine? That flag there had nothing to do with slavery, or hate. That one was a Confederate battle flag right there, that wasn’t even a Southern flag.”
Daytona President Joie Chitwood said the organization is considering an outright ban in the future, adding that there were several “elements” that needed to be considered before a decision was reached.
“We want to do what's right. But we have to be thoughtful and have a good plan to get there where it's appropriate for everyone,” he said.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons