USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) announced Friday that it will be removing the John Wayne exhibit located on the second floor in the main building of the School of Cinematic Arts. Wayne’s exhibit was installed in the main building in 2012 and is focused on his film career. This announcement reverses SCA’s initial decision in December to keep the exhibit.
Previously, SCA had decided not to “fully remove” the exhibit, but to instead expand the exhibit to focus more broadly on the history of the American West in film.
SCA’s decision follows President Folt’s announcement that the Von Kleinsmid Center would be renamed, citing USC’s former President’s support of eugenics.
In multiple protests organized by rising senior E. Plant, students accused SCA of “endorsing white supremacy.” Students cited a 1971 Playboy interview in which Wayne used bigoted language in reference to Native American, Black and LGBTQIA+ communities.
“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,” Wayne said in the interview.
Evan Hughes, assistant dean of Diversity and Inclusion at SCA, cited Wayne’s history of racism and said that recent events such as the Black Lives Matter protests “require that we consider the role our School [SCA] can play as a change-maker in promoting antiracist cultural values and experiences.”
In the wake of the decision, E. Plant, an art major who organized the protests last fall, says that while they are happy that SCA “understand[s] their own role in spreading racism,” they hope that SCA actually does the work “internally to fix systemic racism on campus.”
SCA is not the only institution to reevaluate its relationship with Wayne’s legacy. In June, Democrats in Orange County passed an emergency resolution to change the name of the John Wayne Airport to the Orange County Airport. In 1979, following Wayne’s death, the airport was named after the actor,
SCA plans to remove the exhibit prior to the beginning of the fall semester.