John Wayne’s infamous Playboy interview is back in the news thanks to lawmakers in California who tried and failed to create a state “John Wayne Day.” In the May 1971 issue the Oscar-winning actor made controversial comments about blacks and American Indians. We’re in the process of publishing the full interview on the site, but in the meantime here are those quotes, which are not doing The Duke’s legacy any favors.
Angela Davis claims that those who would revoke her teaching credentials on ideological grounds are actually discriminating against her because she’s black. Do you think there’s any truth in that?
With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. 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.
And in a separate part of the interview…
For years American Indians have played an important—if subordinate—role in your Westerns. Do you feel any empathy with them?
I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. 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.
You can see why people are fired up.