The Democratic Party of Orange County in California wants to send the “Duke” riding off into the sunset for good.
Party leaders are demanding the removal of actor John Wayne’s name from the local airport due to the “racist and bigoted statements” that the Hollywood star made in a 1971 magazine interview.
In a resolution issued on Friday, they are calling for John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana to revert back to its original name, Orange County Airport.
“Orange County is now a diverse region far different from the time when John Wayne was chosen as namesake for the airport,” the party said in its resolution.
There have been several attempts in recent years to rename John Wayne Airport. But the latest effort from O.C. Democrats is the first to invoke the recent Black Lives Matter protests, which have targeted historic statues and monuments around the country for destruction and removal.
“A national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names is reshaping American institutions, monuments, businesses, nonprofits, sports leagues and teams,” the O.C. Democrats said. “It is widely recognized that racist symbols produce lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma particularly to Black communities, people of color and other oppressed groups.”
The party said the removal of racist symbols “provides a necessary process for communities to remember historic acts of violence and recognize victims of oppression.”
John Wayne gave an interview to Playboy magazine in 1971 in which the Oscar-winning actor made comments that O.C. Democrats now view as “racist and bigoted.”
Here is the section of Wayne’s interview that has incited the most controversy:
“With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But 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.”
O.C. Democrats also called Wayne “anti-LGBT” and “anti-Indigenous.”
In the 1971 interview, Wayne described the movie Midnight Cowboy as a “a story about two f*gs.” The Western star was also asked if he felt empathy for Native Americans.
“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”
John Wayne Airport was given its current name in 1979 in honor of the True Grit actor who died that year and was a local resident. It is the largest airport in Orange County, which owns and operates it.
The O.C. was once a Republican stronghold. But it turned blue during the 2018 midterm elections, with all of its congressional districts now represented by Democrats.