Politicians call for California's John Wayne Airport to be renamed due to actor's racist views

Danny Thompson

John Wayne Airport in California’s Orange County is the subject of a potential name change spearheaded by democratic politicians due to the Hollywood icon’s racist views.

The airport was renamed to honour the actor, who lived nearby, after he died in 1979.

Now the Democratic Party of Orange Country has passed an emergency resolution calling for the airport to revert back to its original name of Orange County Airport.

Read more: Students protest at USC over exhibit hailing former student John Wayne

John Wayne holding a rifle in a publicity photo for the movie Shepherd of the Hills.

The resolution includes statements which “condemns John Wayne’s racist and bigoted statements,” calling them “white supremacist, anti-LGBT and anti-Indigenous”.

The resolution states: “It is widely recognised that racist symbols produce lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma, particularly to Black communities, people of colour and other oppressed groups, and the removal of racist symbols provides a necessary process for communities to remember historic acts of violence and recognise victims of oppression.”

The actor, best known for his leading roles in Western films, made several racist statements in a 1971 interview with Playboy Magazine, even admitting he was a believer in white supremacy.

The statue of John Wayne at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

The interview saw Wayne say: “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.”

He also took aim at Native American people.

He said: “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. … Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival.

Read more: Resurfaced 1971 Playboy interview of John Wayne goes viral

“There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

There has been a recent surge of actions and petitions to remove place names and symbols linked to figures who profited from or believed in white supremacy.

The demands come off the back of the Black Lives Matter movement gaining public attention and traction after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by police in Minneapolis while he was being restrained.