30 Sep 2004 Black Network Speaks Out Against Apparent NASCAR Shakedown
A self-syled minority activist group has announced plans to protest a Nextel Cup NASCAR auto race this weekend. Members of the black leadership network Project 21 speculate that this is another attempt to wrest money and influence from the professional racing organization using the threat of bad publicity.
A group calling itself the National Association of Minority Race Fans (NAMRF) plans to stage a protest at the EA Sports 500 NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama on Sunday, October 3.
NAMRF currently maintains a members-only Internet web site claiming the group seeks to “create a safe racetrack environment while pursuing the political, social and economic equality of minority groups and citizens who desire to enjoy NASCAR events without racial bigotry.” It also contains a cartoon of a KKK member waving a NASCAR flag, information about a presumed class-action lawsuit against NASCAR and a boycott list. The group’s public representative is a white lawyer.
“This is yet another attempt by the politically correct lobby to shake down NASCAR,” said Project 21 member Reginald Jones. “NASCAR officials got themselves into this problem by cozying up to Jesse Jackson and others in the past.”
Last year, Project 21 and the National Legal and Policy Center urged NASCAR to sever its financial ties to Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. NASCAR was believed to have given the group approximately $250,000 over several years. While NASCAR reportedly stopped supporting Jackson for a time, there are indications that Jackson is once again receiving money from NASCAR.
In addition to Project 21, former professional basketball star and entrepreneur Ervin “Magic” Johnson is also opposed to NAMRF’s plans. Johnson, who is working with NASCAR to increase minority interest in the sport, calls the protest “premature.” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston told USA Today that NAMRF appears to be attempting “to intimidate NASCAR and our sponsors for some sort of financial gain.”
Speaking about NAMRF and its agenda, Jones added: “These people are not representative of minority NASCAR fans. We root for the drivers and their teams not for the color of their skin but for their prowess on the track. If this were really about diversity in sports, it would be more appropriate for them to protest the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, where minorities are over-represented.”
Project 21 has written about the free-market way to bring racial diversity to NASCAR is the op-ed/commentary “Blacks Need Green to Compete with Whites in NASCAR” by David Almasi. It can be found on the Internet at http://www.nationalcenter.org/P21NVAlmasiNASCAR304.html.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.