USC’s film school to remove John Wayne exhibit because of actor’s alleged ‘bigotry’

The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts announced on Friday that it will be removing a John Wayne exhibit from its main building.

Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Evan Hughes posted a memo to Twitter, explaining the school’s decision.

“I am writing to update you on plans for the Wayne exhibit, located in the main building of the School of Cinematic Arts Complex,” the statement began. “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. Therefore, it has been decided that the Wayne Exhibit will be removed.”

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Hughes went on to add that the school is “grateful” to students who spoke out to give their thoughts about this. The dean added that the material used in the exhibit will be moved to the Cinematic Arts Library archives “where other artifacts and papers of influential Hollywood figures reside for the purpose of research and scholarship.”

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The Los Angeles Times reported that this decision came months after students launched a protest at the Wayne exhibit, saying that the school would be “endorsing white supremacy” if it was kept. This protest was done in response after an interview that Wayne did with Playboy resurfaced in which he made offensive comments against black people, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community.

“I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility,” he said in the 1971 interview. “I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

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Wayne also offered sentiments about slavery, saying, “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.” He then expressed no sympathy for the subjugation of Native Americans.

“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them,” he said. “There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

This comes two weeks after California Democrats in Orange County passed a resolution asking the county to rename the John Wayne Airport. Wayne’s son Ethan Wayne responded to this by defending his dad, saying that he “did not support ‘white supremacy’ in any way.”

Ethan went on to add that his late father “believed that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence.”

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