LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An exhibit about John Wayne will be removed from the USC School of Cinematic Arts after renewed scrutiny of his racist comments, the school’s assistant dean announced Friday.
The late actor and former Trojan has become an increasingly polarizing figure amid greater awareness and criticism of racist attitudes by historical figures. The Orange County Democratic Party recently called for the renaming of John Wayne Airport due to his “racist and bigoted statements.”
“Conversations about systemic racism in our cultural institutions along with the recent global, civil uprising by the Black Lives Matter movement require that we consider the role our school can play as a change-maker in promoting antiracist cultural values and experiences,” Evan Hughes, the school’s dean of diversity and inclusion, said in the announcement. “Therefore, it has been decided that the Wayne exhibit will be removed.”
Announcement concerning the John Wayne exhibit: pic.twitter.com/8vg5tUUjCj
— USC Cinematic Arts (@USCCinema) July 10, 2020
The materials in the Wayne exhibit will be moved into the Cinematic Arts Library, “where other artifacts and papers of influential Hollywood figures reside for the purpose of research and scholarship.”
Some USC students last fall had called for the removal of the exhibit, but USC officials decided against it, opting instead to expand its scope to tell a more complete story about the American West and its depiction in Hollywood.
In a 1971 interview, Wayne said, “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 has also said, “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago, these people were slaves.”
Wayne, who attended USC but had to leave when an injury caused him to lose his football scholarship, starred in more than 150 films and was famous for his macho image in westerns and war movies. He was nominated for three Academy Awards and won Best Actor for 1969’s “True Grit.”
Wayne died in 1979 after a years-long battle with cancer.