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The Country Music Association has added “Confederate flag imagery of any kind” to the prohibited items list at the upcoming CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee. Per The Charlotte Observer, the four-day festival is scheduled June 9-12 after a two-year postponement during the COVID-19 pandemic, the association announced online.
After years of allowing the defeated rebel flag, CMA says now is different.
The association states the decision to ban Confederate flag imagery was an updated part of the policy to protect the safety of fans, according to a statement obtained by The Tennessean. “This year’s CMA Fest is our first major fan-facing event in nearly three years. We have always had policies in place that protect the safety of our fans and ban discrimination, but we felt it was important to further refine our language to explicitly outline what will and will not be tolerated,” the CMA said in the statement, according to The Tennessean.
“In line with our first CMA Fest lineup announcement in early April, our event policy was published on our website, which states any behavior that causes one of our attendees to fear for their personal safety will not be tolerated, and that is inclusive of any displays of the Confederate flag.”
Country music, like NASCAR, aims to be inclusive after years of sparse diversity.
According to Variety, the move comes at a time when the CMA and other country music orgs are seeking to grow racial diversity in the genre. Headliners on the Nissan Stadium main stage at this year’s CMA Festival include two Black artists, Darius Rucker and Kane Brown. The Black Opry, an organization dedicated to promoting upcoming Black artists, is also presenting a showcase along with many other performers of color hitting the stage.
In an attempt to widen its appeal by excluding fans of Old Dixie, the CMAs, much like NASCAR, now look to bridge the wide gap that has existed for decades in both industries. While it’s better late than never, hearing the news of any organization waiting until 2022 to ban Confederate flags makes one wonder: What took them so long?