A University of Southern California exhibit dedicated to John Wayne will be removed from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts following a student-led protest that decried the actor’s history of racism and homophobia.
“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,” USC assistant dean of diversity and inclusion Evan Hughes said in a statement. “Therefore, it has been decided that the Wayne Exhibit will be removed.”
Since October 2019, USC students have called for the exhibit’s removal, citing Wayne’s public remarks “endorsing white supremacy,” the Daily Trojan reports; in a 1971 interview, Wayne admitted, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.” The actor also spoke disparagingly about Native Americans and used a homophobic slur when discussing the film Midnight Cowboy, Variety writes.
The contents of the John Wayne exhibit, which also drew criticism for the Western film genre’s depiction of Native Americans, will instead be placed in the university’s Cinematic Arts Library. “Placing them within the proper archival and research context will allow scholarship to continue on the role that John Wayne’s films played in the history of cinema,” Hughes added.
Announcement concerning the John Wayne exhibit: pic.twitter.com/8vg5tUUjCj
— USC Cinematic Arts (@USCCinema) July 10, 2020
Wayne briefly attended USC on an athletic scholarship in the 1920s before an injury forced him leave the university.
In recent months, the Democratic Party of Orange County also passed an emergency resolution to rename the county’s John Wayne Airport as well as remove a statue of the actor, citing his “racist and bigoted statements.”