NASCAR's only black driver asked them to ban the Confederate flag. Two days later, they did.
via piccolini cuscino / Twitter

NASCAR's only black driver, Bubba Wallace, told CNN on Monday that the league should ban the Confederate flag. "No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race," he said. "So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them."

Wallace drives the No. 43 car with Richard Petty Motorsports.

On Wednesday, NASCAR released a statement saying that it had banned the flag. It's believed that Wallace's statement pushed NASCAR to finally do what it had been considering for years.


"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," it wrote.

"Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community it creates is what makes fans and sport special, the statement continued, "The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties."

The ban comes a few days after the sport had a dramatic display of solidarity with the black community.

On Sunday, during its pre-race routine at Atlanta Motor Speedway, drivers stopped their cars on the track for a statement by president Steve Phelps who called upon Americans to listen to black people's calls for change after the death of George Floyd.

He also said, "Our sport must do better. Our country must do better."

During the race Wallace wore a shirt that said "I can't breathe" and had "Black Lives Matter" painted on his car.

"Our team brought that idea to me and I jumped all over it," Wallace said according to Sports Illustrated. "Why not dive in straight to the root and put #BlackLivesMatter on the car?"

Wallace's stance on the flag and willingness to stand for racial justice in NASCAR is a bold statement, to say the least. NASCAR is a favorite sport among American conservatives in the south and the flag is a familiar site at NASCAR races, dotting the infield atop RVs or being waved by fans in the grandstands.

The 26-year-old Alabama native wasn't always bothered by the sight of the flags but had a chance of heart.

"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."

For the past five years, the sport has had an uncomfortable relationship with the flag. It called for fans to stop beginning it to events in 2015 after a after a white supremacist murdered nine black people at a Charleston church in 2015.

But the request did little to limit its presence.

Before Wednesday's race, Wallace said NASCAR made the right call.

"Bravo," he said while clapping. "Props to NASCAR and everybody involved," he said. "There's a lot of emotions on the racetrack and off the racetrack that are riding with us. Tonight is something special. Today has been special. Hats off to NASCAR."







Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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