• U.S.

California Rejects ‘John Wayne Day’ Because of Actor’s Comments on Race

2 minute read

The California state assembly rejected a proposal to honor John Wayne Thursday because of the actor’s offensive comments.

Republican assemblyman Matthew Harper proposed naming May 26, 2016 as John Wayne Day (that’s his birthday) to honor the actor famous for Westerns and movies like True Grit. But other members of the California state assembly rejected his proposal in a 35-20 vote, citing comments the deceased actor had made about race, according to the Washington Post.

Democratic assembly member Luis Alejo pointed to a 1971 Playboy interview in which Wayne made disparaging comments about black people:

“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.”

Another assembly member, Lorena Gonzalez, cited another quote from the same Playboy interview, this time about Native Americans:

“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

Harper attributed the defeat of his proposal to the “orthodoxy of political correctness” and said opposing John Wayne Day is like “opposing apple pie, fireworks, baseball, the Free Enterprise system and theFourth of July!”

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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com