Following movements across the country calling for the removal of all remembrances of perceived racist iconography and honors, the Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC) has issued a resolution to remove John Wayne from his namesake airport.
The Democrats want to revert the airport to its original designation: Orange County Airport.
Wayne, a film star whose career spanned five decades, was a notorious conservative in a less tolerant era. Wayne, born Marion Robert Morrison, starred in more than 140 movies and became a Hollywood symbol of American values and ideals. He died on June 11, 1979.
In a 1971 Playboy magazine interview, Wayne openly provided some of his opinions on race.
“With a lot of Blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment, along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so,” he said. “But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the Blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the Blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.”
He continued, “I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people. … I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”
The Democrats’ call for removing Wayne is not the first time Orange County’s airport name has been scrutinized. In March 2019, there were many calls for the airport to remove Wayne’s association following the resurfacing of the Playboy interview.
The latest Democrat resolution states, “Orange County is now a diverse region far different from the time when John Wayne was chosen as namesake. The removal of racist symbols provides a necessary process for communities to remember historic actors of violence and recognize victims of oppression.”
Orange County Democrats formally condemned John Wayne’s past statements and called for his name and likeness to be removed from the Orange County airport. They also asked the Orange County Board of Supervisors to restore the airport’s name to the “Orange County Airport.”
The reemergence of Wayne’s inflammatory comments also spurred USC students in 2019 to call for the removal of John Wayne’s exhibition at the School of Cinematic Arts. Dubbed “The Wayne Collection,” the retrospective was dedicated to his prolific film career. He attended USC in the 1920’s.
The OC Democrat’s statement is attached below.