Democratic officials in Orange County, Calif., are calling for John Wayne Airport to be renamed amid the resurfacing of comments the late Western movie star made decades ago.
On Friday, the Democratic Party of Orange County passed a resolution condemning the Duke for “racist and bigoted statements” he made during an interview with “Playboy” in 1971, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The resolution called for the Orange County Board of Supervisors to remove Wayne’s name, statue,and other likenesses from the international airport and “restore its original name: Orange County 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 Ada Briceño, chairperson of the Democratic Party of Orange County.
The resolution states that the renaming is part of a larger movement to remove “white supremacist symbols and names [that are] reshaping American institutions, monuments, businesses, nonprofits, sports leagues, and teams.”
“It is widely recognized that racist symbols produce lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma particularly to Black communities, people of color and other oppressed groups,” the resolution says, adding that Orange County is more diverse than it was when the airport was christened under Wayne’s name in 1979.
Briceño said the renaming could happen due to the changing party demographics of Orange County and the protests that followed the death of George Floyd in police custody.
“The numbers have grown since last year to where I believe we have something like 40,000 more Democrats than Republicans,” Briceño said.
Another petition for renaming the airport has been posted online and has gained more than 600 signatures.
The call for removing Wayne’s likeness from the airport comes amid a resurfaced interview in which the star, who was 63 at the time, 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.”