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Lawmakers reject John Wayne Day over actor's racist comments

California politicians have voted down a proposal to designate May 26 - the actor's birthday - as John Wayne Day. The idea was rejected after some said Wayne had made racist comments against blacks and Native Americans.

The resolution for John Wayne Day was submitted by Assemblyman Matthew Harper, who described Wayne as the "prototypical American Hero, symbolizing such traits as self-reliance, grace under pressure, resolve and patriotism."

But Harper's colleague Lorena Gonzalez said Wayne's movies showed a lot of Native Americans being killed and that they sanctioned the white occupation of the continent. Assemblyman Luis Alejo also complained that Wayne "had disturbing views towards race."

The proposal was consequently voted down on Thursday, although several lawmakers, including Harper, claimed that the vote had gone in favor of "political correctness." Others also remembered Wayne's contribution to cancer research and his support for the US military.

Support for 'white supremacy'

The actor who became known under the stage name John Wayne was born in 1907 as Marion Mitchell Morrison and later renamed Marion Robert Morrison. Also nicknamed the "Duke," Wayne defined the quintessential cowboy on screen with his appearance of rugged masculinity and swaggering walk. His most famous movies include "The Alamo," "The Green Beret" and "True Grit," for which he received an Academy Award.

However, the actor, whose film career ran from the early 1930s to 1976, was a conservative and ruffled feathers with his strong views on discrimination.

"With a lot of blacks, there's quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightly so… But we can't all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks," Wayne told the magazine Playboy in a 1971 interview.

"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," he said.

mg/tj (AP, AFP)

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