A black NASCAR official who saluted the flag from his knee during the national anthem Sunday told The Charlotte Observer that “I come from humble beginnings and I believe in humble protesting.”
Kirk Price, a NASCAR technical inspector, took a knee and raised his right fist during the invocation before Sunday’s Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Price, who told the Observer that he served on active duty for three years in the U.S. Army, remained kneeling while saluting the flag during the National Anthem.
“I wasn’t thinking about anybody else,” Price told the Observer. “I’m 49 years old and I’ve already witnessed things through what’s going on in the world as we speak.
“I could only think about ‘What can I do to make the world a better place?’ To where this gets out to where people can understand.”
Price’s action was among many before Sunday’s race by NASCAR addressing social injustice.
Bubba Wallace wore a T-shirt that read “I can’t breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” over his racing uniform before the race. “I can’t breathe” were the last words of George Floyd, who died on Memorial Day after a former Minneapolis police officer pinned him down by placing a knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
NASCAR drivers came together this week to make a video that condemns racial inequality and racism. As part of the video, which was released before Sunday’s race, drivers said: “All of our voices, they make a difference. No matter how big or how small, it is all of our responsibility to no longer be silent.”
Series officials stopped the field on the frontstretch before the race and NASCAR President Steve Phelps read a message that included: “The time is now to listen, to understand and to stand against racism and racial injustice. We ask our drivers, our competitors and all our fans to join us in this mission.”
After Phelps spoke, a moment of silence was observed.
After the race, Ryan Blaney said he had attended peaceful protests this past week.
“That’s just something that you want to get involved with and support your fellow human being,” Blaney said. “We all have to treat each other equally. It kind of disgusts me when the race thing comes up and people hate a person for being a different pigment and not judging them by their character.”