The Searchers - 1956
Credit: Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

An exhibition dedicated to John Wayne at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts will be removed, USC announced Friday. The move comes in the wake of persistent student protests over the exhibit due to Wayne's history of racist remarks.

"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," Evan Hughes, the school's assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, said in a statement. The exhibit features photos and memorabilia from Wayne's iconic film career and was installed in 2012. The materials will now be housed in the university's archives, Hughes said.

The controversial remarks in question occurred in 1971, when Wayne endorsed white supremacy, in so many words, in an interview with Playboy magazine. "I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility," the actor said. "I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people." He also said he did not "feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago, these people were slaves."

Wayne added, "I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians. 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."

USC students have been protesting the exhibit since last fall. In December, school officials announced they would expand it to include "elements of Indigenous filmmaking, feminism and critical race theory through interactive displays," according to the university's Daily Trojan newspaper. The calls for removal were renewed in the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, along with growing calls to rename Orange County, Calif.'s John Wayne Airport.

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