California Democrats are pushing to rename John Wayne Airport because of racist and homophobic remarks made by the actor.
Wayne, who died in 1979, once said that he didn’t feel guilty about slavery, claimed Native Americans were ‘selfishly trying to keep’ land for themselves and used homophobic slurs.
Democrats in Orange County now wish to drop the film legend’s name, statue and other likenesses from the Santa Ana airport because of the bigoted comments.
It comes during a nationwide push to change location names and take down statues in light of U.S. racial history.
Orange County Democrats wish to remove all statues and other likenesses of the late actor from the John Wayne Airport and rename it because of his racist and bigoted comments
They have called on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to change the name from John Wayne to Orange County Airport as part of a nationwide push in light of U.S. racial history
The Los Angeles Times reported that that officials passed an emergency resolution Friday condemning Wayne’s ‘racist and bigoted statements’.
‘There have been past efforts to get this done and now we’re putting our name and our backing into this to make sure there is a name change,’ said Ada Briceño, chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County.
According to those who crafted the resolution, the effort to oust Wayne, a longtime resident of Orange County, is part of ‘a national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names (that are) reshaping American institutions, monuments, businesses, nonprofits, sports leagues and teams’.
They added that its is ‘widely recognized that racist symbols produce lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma particularly to black communities, people of color and other oppressed groups, and the removal of racist symbols provides a necessary process for communities to remember historic acts of violence and recognize victims of oppression’.
It adds that the county is a more diverse region than it was when Wayne’s name was given to the airport.
The resolution asked the Orange County Board of Supervisors to drop his name, statue and other likenesses from the international airport and ‘to restore its original name: Orange County Airport’.
The airport had been named after The Duke following his 1979 death, aged 72.
The film legend made bigoted statements against black people, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community in a 1971 interview with Playboy which resurfaced recently
Wayne was a long-time resident of Orange County but the county’s Democrats have argued in a resolution that the region has changed ethnically since he was alive
The resolution cited a 1971 Playboy magazine interview in which Wayne makes bigoted statements against black people, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community.
He said: ‘I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.’
Wayne also said that although he didn’t condone slavery, ‘I don´t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves’.
The actor added he felt no remorse in the subjugation of Native Americans.
‘I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. … (O)ur so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival,’ he said.
‘There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.’
The Santa Ana international airstrip was first named John Wayne Airport after his 1979 death
Wayne also called movies such as ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy’ perverted, and used a gay slur to refer to the two main characters of the latter film.
He was 63 when he made the remarks.
Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner told the Times that he had just heard about the Democratic resolution and was unaware of its wording or merit.
This is not the first time that there has been a push to rename the airport.
It was also targeted in early 2019 when Wayne’s words in the Playboy article were widely reshared online.
Those opposed to the renaming claim Wayne can’t be judged on his comments because he lived in a different era.
According to the Times, Wayne was a political power broker in Orange County after living much of his adult life there.
It is also where he is buried.