The branding sponsored by FedEx on the hood of NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin’s car was replaced with a logo of the National Civil Rights Museum on Monday amid ongoing protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
Hamlin’s No. 11 car usually is painted with the FedEx logo and colors but has been refinished with black paint to emphasize the museum’s logo during the Talladega Superspeedway race in Alabama.
"@FedEx has chosen to remove all of their branding and traditional colors, with this week's theme being to listen and learn as they spotlight the @NCRMuseum," tweeted Joe Gibbs Racing, the team that Hamlin races for.
For today’s race, @FedEx has chosen to remove all of their branding and traditional colors, with this week’s theme being to listen and learn as they spotlight the @NCRMuseum, which they are featuring on the hood. pic.twitter.com/hfd5aGq2e9— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) June 21, 2020
FedEx also announced that it would donate $500,000 to the museum, which is based at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The company’s headquarters is also based in the Tennessee city.
At today’s Talladega SuperSpeedway @NASCAR race, @FedEx announced a $500,000 donation to the @NCRMuseum in support of the museum’s mission. FedEx is also a sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing driver @dennyhamlin whose #11 car now bears the museum’s logo on its hood. #catalystforchange pic.twitter.com/tH5dw3NbJt— NatCivilRightsMuseum (@NCRMuseum) June 21, 2020
Hamlin won his record-tying third NASCAR Cup Series last week at Homestead and came in fourth in the race at Talladega on Monday.
He visited the National Civil Rights Museum last week, writing that he “promised to listen and that’s what I’m doing.”
"To say that this was informative, humbling, eye opening is a huge understatement," the 39-year-old racer tweeted about his visit. "I want to thank them personally for taking the time to educate me on so many topics."
I promised to listen and that’s what I’m doing. Today you will see my #11 car will not carry the traditional paint scheme that you usually see. @FedEx and myself instead want to give that voice to the @NCRMuseum. Exhibit photos courtesy of the NCRM. pic.twitter.com/KJ0sKumnUT— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) June 21, 2020
The move from FedEx and Hamlin comes amid national protests against racial injustice and police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer was seen kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
NASCAR announced earlier this month that it was banning displays of the Confederate flag at all events and properties in an attempt to make the environment more inclusive for fans.
A noose was found in the garage stall of Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, just weeks after the racing circuit's only African American driver emblazoned a "Black Lives Matter" message across his car.
NASCAR said in a statement that it launched an immediate investigation into the matter, noting that it is "angry and outraged" by the "heinous act."
"[We] will do everything we can to identify the person responsible and eliminate them from the sport," NASCAR said. "As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all."
Wallace said the "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 in the fight against racism."