Jun 2, 2022 - News

CMA Fest bans Confederate flag imagery

A woman wearing a bikini top with Confederate flag imagery.
A CMA Fest attendee in 2017 wearing a bikini top with Confederate flag imagery. Photo: courtesy of Axios reader Adam Kleinheider

Confederate flag imagery "of any kind" is banned at CMA Fest this year.

Why it matters: Country music has been grappling with issues of race and a lack of diversity for years. The new rule at one of the genre's biggest annual events represents the industry's latest effort to foster a more inclusive environment.

Driving the news: A study commissioned by the Country Music Association recently found that one in five people of color who attended country music events report experiencing racial profiling or harassment, per Billboard.

  • One in five white attendees say they had witnessed that behavior.

What they're saying: The CMA told The Tennessean's Matthew Leimkuehler "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."

  • "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."

Zoom out: The Stagecoach Festival, a country music event in California, adopted similar rules earlier this year, per The Tennessean.

The big picture: More Black artists are forging their own way and finding success in country music, but some have criticized the genre's handling of race.

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