Politicians call for California's John Wayne Airport to be renamed

Cheryl Sanders
July 3, 2020

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".

The request was immediately contested by the head of the county's Republican Party, who condemned the comments but touted Wayne's contributions as an actor and philanthropist.

While I have experienced racism first-hand, I do believe that a person should be judged on the totality of their actions and contributions to society which is why I support keeping the name John Wayne Airport.

The piece which has recently resurfaced has Wayne saying that he believed in white supremacy adding "I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves".

A statue of John Wayne was placed in the airport in 1982 three years after the name change

"I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people", Wayne said in the interview. A statue of Wayne was also erected on site in 1982.

The resolution asked the Orange County Board of Supervisors to drop his name, statue and other likenesses from the worldwide airport and "to restore its original name: Orange County Airport".

First reported by Los Angeles Times, Democratic Party of Orange County filed an emergency resolution Friday calling for the reversal of the 1979 decision to rename it after Duke and restoring the original name of the airport: Orange County Airport.

He cited "thousands of heroes who have called Orange County home there are several examples of sacrifice worthy of having their names immortalised on an airport", listing several war heroes from the area who the airport could be named after.

Trump has called himself a "longtime fan" of Wayne, appearing alongside the actor's daughter Aissa at Wayne's birthplace memorial in Iowa during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Wayne starred in movies including "The Alamo", "The Green Berets" and "True Grit", for which he won an Academy Award, while portraying the gruff, rugged cowboys and fearless soldiers who were his stock in trade.

"There have been past efforts to get this done and now we're putting our name and our backing into this to make sure there is a name change", said Ada Briceno, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Orange County.

Ethan Wayne, the movie star's son, said in a statement that his father was not racist and hired and worked with people from diverse backgrounds.

"The current focus on social justice is absolutely valid and necessary", the younger Wayne said.

Jay Burress, chief executive of Visit Anaheim, declined to weigh in on the controversy over Wayne's name.

Democrats in Orange County now wish to drop the film legend's name, statue and other likenesses from the Santa Ana airport because of the bigoted comments.

"Most visitors we have know the name Orange County", Burress said.

Other reports by iNewsToday