On July 10, 2020 the Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at Southern California University, Evan Hughes, posted on Twitter that the school would be removing the John Wayne Exhibit from the main building of the School of Cinematic Arts Complex. Mr. Hughes went on to say the decision was made because of the current social climate and a statement made by John Wayne in 1971. Because of the civil uprising of the group Black Lives Matter, Hughes felt the school needed to think about how the school could help bring about change on the subject of systemic racism. With the issues our country and the whole world are facing, two statements made in an interview with Playboy magazine were taken by current students and used as a reason to remove the exhibit. Just two weeks prior to this announcement the California Democrats in Orange County, California requested that the county consider renaming the John Wayne Airport.
In his interview with Playboy, John Wayne is quoted as saying “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.” In the original interview Wayne went on to state that he doesn’t condone slavery, but rather he didn’t feel sorry for something that happened so long ago. With these two statements in mind students at the University of Southern California protested in front of the Wayne Exhibit stating that the school would be “endorsing white supremacy” should they choose to keep the exhibit unchanged. He is also quoted in the same interview as saying he doesn’t “feel guilty” for salves existing five to ten generations ago. John Wayne is accused of bigotry because of this and other statements made of Native Americans. Wayne felt that white Americans needed the land that Native Americans had as a matter of survival.
Announcement concerning the John Wayne exhibit: pic.twitter.com/8vg5tUUjCj
— USC Cinematic Arts (@USCCinema) July 10, 2020
Because of the pressure from the students Assistant Dean Hughes decided the exhibit would be removed and placed in storage for “research and scholarship” among other material from Hollywood. John Wayne’s son Ethan came to his father’s defense saying he “did not support ‘white supremacy’ in any way.” He also added that John Wayne believed that responsible people would gain power through non-violent means. It is questioned whether or not these accusations are “fair game.” Since the interview was done almost 50 years ago with an actor who has been dead for over 40 years many think the remarks are viewed through a lens of modern times looking into the past. This isn’t the first time John Wayne’s statements were brought up. In 2016 they were brought to light when his daughter, Aissa Wayne, endorsed Donald Trump for president.