California university to remove John Wayne exhibit

The John Wayne exhibit at the School of Cinematic Arts in University of Southern California

College students acting as a kind of young American Taliban have targeted another historic figure for condemnation, demanding that the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts remove an exhibit dedicated to American movie legend John Wayne.

Someone discovered a 1971 Playboy Magazine interview in which the actor and filmmaker made politically incorrect comments about blacks, and now the exhibition will be pulled from campus in response to student protests, according to a story on Indiewire.

Evan Hughes, USC’s assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, was quick to capitulate to students. “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.”

The show has been the target of student protesters since last year, under the now-familiar charge that it condones white supremacy. The exhibit was created in 2012 in recognition of Wayne’s having attended the school in the 1920s on a football scholarship before becoming a Hollywood legend. According to the school, the contents of the exhibit will be moved to a library to allow for continued scholarship. See the statement from USC below.

Wayne’s 1971 comments in the Playboy Magazine interview include “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.” Wayne also admitted to not “hunting for positions” for people of color on his movies. He also said, “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.”

Recently, there have also been petitions to change the name of Southern California’s John Wayne Airport in Orange County.


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