Bubba Wallace is the first full-time black driver to race in the Cup Series since 1971

By Jason Duaine Hahn
June 10, 2020 04:52 PM

Bubba Wallace will be raising awareness for Black Lives Matter during Wednesday night's NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

The 26-year-old racer, who is the first full-time black driver to race in the Cup Series in nearly 50 years, did away with his car's normal paint scheme for one that promotes the Black Lives Matter movement and racial equality.

For the race, Wallace's car — which is owned by Richard Petty Motorsports — will be painted all black and will feature the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag along its rear quarter-panels. The words "compassion, love, understanding" will appear on the hood along with a painting of a black hand clasping a white hand.

"I think by running this branding on our car, putting the hashtag out there, bringing more awareness to it, it lines up with the videos that we had put out as NASCAR," Wallace told CNN of the car's new look.

Bubba Wallace
Chris Graythen/Getty

"Listening and learning. Educating ourselves. So people will look up what this hashtag means, and hopefully, get a better understanding," he added.

NBA star LeBron James, a prominent supporter of Black Lives Matter, gave Wallace a "shout-out" on Twitter after news of the redesign was announced.

But the new paint scheme isn't the only thing Wallace is doing to raise awareness for the movement, which gained renewed attention following the May 25 death of George Floyd.

Bubba Wallace
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty

Last week, Wallace wore a Black Lives Matter-themed shirt during a pre-race ceremony in Atlanta, then called on NASCAR to eliminate Confederate battle flags from all of its race tracks.

"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."

The flag —  which was used by the Confederate States of America before its downfall in 1865 — has "served as a potent symbol of slavery and white supremacy, which has caused it to be very popular among white supremacists," according to the Anti-Defamation League.

RELATED VIDEO: Dwayne Johnson Asks 'Where Is Our Leader?' in Passionate Video Supporting Black Lives Matter

"It starts with Confederate flags," Wallace continued. "Get them out of here. They have no place for them. The narrative on that before is I wasn't bothered by it, but I don't speak for everybody else. I speak for myself. What I am chasing is checkered flags, and that was kind of my narrative."

According to CBS Sports, NASCAR has disallowed the use of the battle flag in "any official" capacity but fans are not prohibited from displaying the symbol at their events.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.