John Wayne, the actor best known for being Hollywood's quintessential movie cowboy, was also pretty racist. This week lawmakers in California abandoned a plan to designate May 26, 2016, John Wayne Day in his honor, remembering some of the awful things he said, including a defense of white supremacy:
"I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility," he told Playboy in 1971. "I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people."
California Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) raised the objection to the bill, The Associated Press reports, referring to the Playboy interview. “He had disturbing views towards race,” he said.
In that same interview, Wayne also said he thought Native Americans were "selfishly trying to keep" the country for themselves:
"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," the actor said.
Assemblyman Matthew Harper, who introduced the bill, defended the move. “Opposing the John Wayne Day resolution is like opposing apple pie, fireworks, baseball, the Free Enterprise system and the Fourth of July!” he said in a statement.
The bill lost by a vote of 35-20. Wayne died in 1979 in California.