This article appeared in the June 23, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Bubba Wallace, a noose, and the anti-racist road ahead

AP Photo/John Bazemore
Nascar drivers Kyle Busch (left), and Corey LaJoie (right) join other drivers and crews as they push the car of Bubba Wallace to the start of the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, June 22, 2020.

Honestly, I’m not much of a stock car racing fan. But I can’t help be drawn by what’s happening in NASCAR.

No doubt you’ve heard the Confederate battle flag was banned from all NASCAR events two weeks ago. And the lone full-time Black driver, Bubba Wallace, turned his Chevy Camaro into a 200 mph Black Lives Matter banner. 

But progress, human history tells us, is halting. Fear often resists. 

On Sunday, one of Mr. Wallace’s crew members found a noose hanging inside their garage at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. 

​Mr. Wallace responded on Twitter: “Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be.”​

NASCAR officials were outraged and vowed to ban the perpetrator from the sport for life. The FBI was called in to investigate. It was likely an inside job, since no fans are allowed into that part of the track. 

But what happened next speaks volumes about the sport and America today.

On Monday afternoon, the entire field of 39 drivers and their crews quietly marched behind Mr. Wallace down the pit lane, pushing his car ahead of them and onto the track. It was an extraordinary statement of solidarity and a rebuke of racism. 

Mr. Wallace climbed out of his car and wept. 

[Editor's note: After our deadline Tuesday, the FBI determined the noose found in Bubba Wallace's garage has been there since October, and no federal law has been broken. Mr. Wallace told CNN, "...whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose."]

This article appeared in the June 23, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/23 edition
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