John Wayne Day Rejected, California Lawmakers Take Issue with Late Actor’s Racist Comments

Fox 5 NY

John Wayne (Fox 5 NY)

California state lawmakers have denied the creation of John Wayne Day, citing his racist comments.

The Associated Press reports Republican State Assemblyman Matthew Harper wanted to mark Wayne’s birthdate of May 26 as an ode to him. The dedication was to take place this year.

Several members of the state assembly described Wayne’s comments  about racial minorities during his lifetime. They also pointed out his association with the House Un-American Activities Committee and John Birch Society, both anti-communist groups.

The 20-minute debate over the resolution started as Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo objected to Wayne’s “disturbing views towards race.”

He referred to a 1971 Playboy interview where the “True Grit” actor spoke badly about Blacks.

“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 told the magazine.

Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gipson said he took offense to the remarks as a Black man.

Harper’s proposal was voted against 35 to 20. He called the act “the orthodoxy of political correctness.”

Later, Harper said in a statement that “opposing the John Wayne Day resolution is like opposing apple pie, fireworks, baseball, the Free Enterprise system and the Fourth of July!”

John Wayne was born Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa in 1907. He was a symbol of the American West. The actor rose to fame starring in many Western and war films from the 1930s to the 1970s. He was also known for his politically conservative views. His 1960s movies, “The Alamo” and “The Green Berets” showed his conservatism. Wayne produced, directed and starred in both films, according to History.

The actor, who died in 1979 at age 72, had unevolved feelings about Hollywood diversity. He spoke about casting Blacks in his conservative films.

“I’ve directed two pictures and I gave the blacks their proper position. I had a black slave in ‘The Alamo,’ and I had a correct number of blacks in ‘The Green Berets,’ ” he told Playboy. “If it’s supposed to be a black character, naturally I use a black actor. But I don’t go so far as hunting for positions for them.”

He continued, saying “I think the Hollywood studios are carrying their tokenism a little too far. There’s no doubt that 10 percent of the population is black, or colored, or whatever they want to call themselves; they certainly aren’t Caucasian.”

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