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California Democrats call for John Wayne’s name and likeness to be removed from airport

The star of 'Stagecoach' and 'True Grit' has a history of racist comments.
SANTA ANA, CA - JULY 18: John Wayne Airport, Orange County on July 18, 2016 in Santa Ana, California. (Photo by FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Leaders of Orange County’s Democratic Party are calling for the removal of film actor John Wayne’s name and forms of likeness from the county’s airport.

What We Know:

  • According to the Los Angeles Times, Orange County officials passed an emergency resolution last week condemning John Wayne’s past “racist and bigoted statements”. The resolution calls on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to rename the John Wayne Airport and remove his statue and all forms of his likeness. They asked to rename the airport to the Orange County Airport, its original name.
  • Ada Briceño, chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, said that “we’re putting our name and our backing into this to make sure there is a name change”. This resolution is part of “a national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names”.
  • Wayne, a longtime resident of Orange County, was famous for his roles in Westerns and was a mainstay in Hollywood from the 1930s through the 1970s.
  • In a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine, Wayne made disturbing comments about the black, indigenous, and LGBTQ communities. “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility . . . I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or ten generations ago these people were slaves,” Wayne said. “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this country away from [Native Americans] . . . the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves”.
  • Wayne also made homophobic comments about the film Midnight Cowboy, calling it “perverted” and using gay slurs to describe the characters. Wayne died from stomach cancer in 1979.

In addition to the name and statue, the John Wayne Airport has a gift shop with merchandise and knick knacks celebrating the actor’s legacy.

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Sagar is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo. He graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Trumpet Performance and Economics. Sagar writes for Black News Alerts and the BNA Daily Podcast.

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