California Lawmakers Nix ‘John Wayne Day’

Actor John Wayne is seen at the Hampshire House in New York after learning he was voted "King of the Box Office," March 29, 1955. (AP Photo/Carl Nesensohn)
AP Photo/Carl Nesensohn

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers have defeated a resolution intended to honor John Wayne after opponents challenged what they say are racist statements by the late actor.

Republican State Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach sought to declare May 26, 2016, as John Wayne Day to mark the day the actor was born.

An Orange County airport is already named after him. The bill, ACR137, is the sort of resolution that lawmakers frequently pass.

But this one triggered a 20-minute debate Thursday before failing, 35-20, to what Harper called “the orthodoxy of political correctness.”

Others lined up to denounce what Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville called Wayne’s disturbing views on race.

In a 1971 interview with Playboy, Wayne talked about his qualms over the idea of ending white supremacy.

“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. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people,” he told the magazine (

Several Republicans say Wayne is remembered worldwide as an American hero. They argued that lawmakers have honored others despite controversies that eventually clouded their legacies.


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