L.A. County’s ‘Jane Fonda Day’ Declaration Condemned by Some State and Local Politicians

Los Angeles County leaders are facing criticism from some local and state politicians over the recent designation of an annual “Jane Fonda Day” on April 30.

The motion was authored by L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath and passed the board 4-0. 

“Jane Fonda is an American actor and activist whose contributions have left an indelible mark on entertainment and social activism, especially women’s rights and environmental advocacy,” the document states. “Throughout her illustrious career spanning decades, Jane Fonda has not only captivated audiences with her performances on screen but has also fearlessly championed causes that promote environmental sustainability, gender equality, and social justice.”

With an emphasis on Fonda’s environmental activism, the resolution indicates that April 30 was chosen as the date because April is Earth Month. However, April 30 is also the anniversary of the 1975 Fall of Saigon when South Vietnam fell to Northern communist forces, marking the end of the Vietnam War. What followed was one of the largest refugee crises in history.

Fonda’s anti-war activities during the 1970s remain controversial to this day, even among many who opposed the war. In 1972, while American troops were in harm’s way, Fonda famously traveled to Hanoi where she met with North Vietnamese soldiers and spoke out against U.S. involvement. She was photographed on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun — the kind used to target U.S. planes. Fonda later apologized for the photo, calling it a “huge mistake.”

Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor and L.A. County supervisor candidate John Cruikshank called the board’s resolution a ‘kick in the teeth’ for U.S. veterans. The vote was also blasted by California Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach). She fled Vietnam with her family after the war in 1976. 

In an op-ed, former Westminster mayor and sitting Assemblymember Tri Ta expressed his own disappointment in the resolution and the choice of April 30 in particular. 

“After the fall of Saigon, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese fled the brutal communist regime, many resorting to risky boat journeys and ultimately finding sanctuary and a new home in Southern California. Many settled just across the border from Los Angeles County in Orange County’s Little Saigon community, which has grown to become the largest Vietnamese population outside Vietnam,” Ta wrote.

“By honoring Fonda on Black April, the supervisors disregarded the Vietnamese American community, America’s Vietnam veterans and countless others, aggravating wounds that have yet to heal. To have this solemn day overshadowed by the celebration of an individual who openly sympathized with the regime responsible for so much suffering is an insult to the memory of those who perished and those who continue to live with the scars of war. This decision demonstrates a lack of empathy for the Vietnamese diaspora and highlights a need for greater cultural awareness.”

On Friday, the Westminster City Council voted unanimously to ask that the resolution be rescinded.

Nearly 50 years have passed since American service members pulled out of Vietnam. As the controversy over Jane Fonda Day demonstrates, the painful legacy of that conflict endures for many Americans, as well as thousands of refugees who call California home.