John Wayne’s alma mater to remove exhibit honoring him

USC will remove the exhibit of the iconic actor after students protested.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Catering to student demands, the University of Southern California said it will remove an exhibit to one of its most famous alums, Hollywood legend John Wayne, in a statement on Friday.

The exhibit honoring the actor was created in 2012. Variety reports students have been protesting against the exhibit since Fall 2019. The magazine says Eric Plant, a USC film student, started the process by displaying a banner outside the exhibit that said, “By keeping Wayne’s legacy alive, SCA [School of Cinematic Arts] is endorsing white supremacy.”

The university didn’t remove the memorial then but said it would include excerpts of a 1971 Playboy interview as part of the exhibit.

Wayne’s legacy has been cast in a negative light since that Playboy interview resurfaced in which he made what many consider racist remarks. He said, in reference to American blacks, that he didn’t “feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago, these people were slaves.”

With the current turmoil following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis, many statues of historical figures associated with slavery have been targeted. The Wayne exhibit is part of that trend.

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USC assistant dean of diversity and inclusion Evan Hughes said in a statement, “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.”

John Wayne attended USC on a football scholarship in the 1920s. According to Wikipedia, the young student-athlete suffered a broken collarbone which ended his athletic career. Wayne said he was too frightened of his coach, Howard Jones, to tell him the real cause of the injury wasn’t football but a body surfing accident.

Wayne lost his scholarship and was forced to drop out. As a favor to coach Jones, who gave free game tickets to western film star Tom Mix and Hollywood director John Ford, the two hired Wayne as a prop boy and extra. Thus began his film career.