Democrats in Southern California are moving to rename John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, citing offensive comments the legendary actor and director made decades earlier.
The Orange County Democratic Party passed a resolution this week calling on Wayne’s name and likeness to be removed from the airport, The Los Angeles Times first reported Saturday.
Located roughly 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the former Orange County Airport would revert to its old name if local lawmakers approve the resolution as written.
The resolution cites the recent nationwide push to rid the country of symbols, names and statues associated with white supremacy and racism, as well as some related comments Wayne infamously said during an interview Playboy published in 1971.
“I believe in white supremacy” and “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves,” Wayne was quoted as saying.
“The Democratic Party of Orange County condemns John Wayne’s racist and bigoted statements, and calls for John Waynes’ [sic] name and likeness to be removed from the Orange County airport, and calls on the OC Board of Supervisors to restore its original name: Orange County Airport,” the resolution reads in part.
Ada Briceño, the chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, told The Los Angeles Times that the resolution is not the first, but hopefully the last, attempt to rename the airport.
“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 Ms. Briceño, The Times reported.
Wayne starred in scores of films, most famously Westerns, during a lengthy career that included movies such as “Stagecoach” in 1939 and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” in 1962.
He died in 1979 at the age of 72, and the Ocean County Airport was renamed for him later that year. A 9-foot-tall statue of “The Duke” was placed on the site in 1982.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors is currently made up of five members, including four Republicans and a single Democrat. Supervisor Michelle Steel, a Republican, did not immediately return a message requesting comment.