Lawmakers might rename John Wayne Airport amid a nationwide push to remove public and private symbols of racism. The name is under fire due to a series of infamous remarks uttered by Hollywood legend John Wayne, for whom the airport takes its namesake. In a 1971 interview with Playboy, Wayne (real name Marion Robert Morrison) said several blatantly racist remarks.
Wayne's comments, which are viewable in full via a University of Virginia archive, were racist and the time and have aged even worse. He claimed Black people were not educated and said bigoted phrases like "I believe in white supremacy until the Blacks are educated to a point of responsibility." He also said he didn't "feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves." In their full context, Wayne's remarks are mainly fueled by his refusal to believe institutional racism exists and are viewed by many as enough to soil his legacy as an actor. However, others disagree, saying that this interview isn't a full indicator of Wayne as a person. Scroll through to read the section of the Playboy interview that has caused so much commotion.
Playboy: "Angela Davis claims that those who would revoke her teaching credentials on ideological grounds are actually discriminating against her because she's Black. Do you think there's any truth in that?"
Wayne: "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."prevnext
Playboy: "Are you equipped to judge which Blacks are irresponsible and which of their leaders inexperienced?"
Wayne: "It's not my judgment. The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the Blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically. But some Blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven't passed the tests and don't have the requisite background."prevnext
Playboy: "How do they get that background?"
Wayne: "By going to school. I don't know why people insist that Blacks have been forbidden their right to go to school. They were allowed in public schools wherever I've been. Even if they don't have the proper credentials for college, there are courses to help them become eligible. But if they aren't academically ready for that step, I don't think they should be allowed in. Otherwise, the academic society is brought down to the lowest common denominator."prevnext
Playboy: "But isn't it true that we're never likely to rectify the inequities in our educational system until some sort of remedial education is given to disadvantaged minority groups?"
Wayne: "What good would it do to register anybody in a class of higher algebra or calculus if they haven't learned to count? There has to be a standard. I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves. Now, I'm not condoning slavery. It's just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can't play football with the rest of us. I will say this, though: I think any Black who can compete with a white today can get a better break than a white man. I wish they'd tell me where in the world they have it better than right here in America."prevnext
Playboy: "Many militant Blacks would argue that they have it better almost anywhere else. Even in Hollywood, they feel that the color barrier is still up for many kinds of jobs. Do you limit the number of Blacks you use in your pictures?"
Wayne: "Oh, Christ no. I've directed two pictures and I gave the Blacks their proper position. I had a Black slave in The Alamo, and I had a correct number of Blacks in The Green Berets. If it's supposed to be a Black character, naturally I use a Black actor. But I don't go so far as hunting for positions for them. I think the Hollywood studios are carrying their tokenism a little too far. There's no doubt that 10 percent of the population is Black, or colored, or whatever they want to call themselves; they certainly aren't Caucasian. Anyway, I suppose there should be the same percentage of the colored race in films as in society. But it can't always be that way. There isn't necessarily going to be 10 percent of the grips or sound men who are Black, because more than likely, 10 percent haven't trained themselves for that type of work."prevnext