Kate Smith’s soaring rendition of “God Bless America” has been a been a cherished part of New York Yankees and Philadelphia Flyers games for years.
But it appears that sports fans will no longer get to hear Smith’s popular take on that patriotic number at Yankees and Flyers games, now that those teams have reportedly said they’ll stop playing Smith’s “God Bless America” after finding that the singer also did racist songs in the 1930s.
“Smith, who died in 1986, is most closely identified with ‘God Bless America,’ but recorded numerous other songs over her long career. Among them were “Pickaninny Heaven” and “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which contain disturbing lyrics that demean black people,” reports the New York Times.
The Yankees had reportedly been playing Smith’s “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch of games since 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But the Flyers’ history with Smith goes back even further.
“Since 1969, the team has played Smith’s ‘God Bless America’ before must-win games, where it has proven to be a good luck charm. According to the Flyers, the team went 101-31-5 in games where Smith’s version of the song aired, including 3-1-0 when Smith sang the song live at the Spectrum, beginning with the Flyers’ home opener in 1973 against the Toronto Maple Leafs,” according to the Inquirer.
Yet, that relationship now appears to be over. The Flyers have not only stop playing “God Bless America,” but have also covered a statue of Smith outside the arena.
“We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization,” said the Flyers in a statement, according to CBS Philly. “As we continue to look into this serious matter, we are removing Kate Smith’s recording of ‘God Bless America’ from our library and covering up the statue that stands outside of our arena.”
At the @NHLFlyers order a black drape with bungee cords (it’s windy) is trying to cover the statue of “God Bless America” singer Kate Smith at the Sports Complex in South #Philly Spotlight is on her songs with racist themes after @NYDailyNews report pic.twitter.com/spad4QAzEj
— Cleve Bryan CBS3 (@CleveBryan) April 19, 2019
The Yankees, on the other hand, are apparently treating the situation like a suspension and have yet to make a final decision on whether Smith’s “God Bless America” will ever be played again at the stadium.
“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman told the Daily News. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
The Yankees have suspended the use of Kate Smith’s recording of ‘God Bless America’ during the 7th inning stretch while the team investigates an allegation of racism against the singer, who died in 1986. https://t.co/2z0K94z4fg pic.twitter.com/Xa3XcUqRFe
— ABC News (@ABC) April 19, 2019
Of course, Smith was hardly alone in terms of recording such racist material back in the 1930s.
“Like many white singers of her era, Smith sang some songs that at best are dated and insensitive and at worst are downright racist,” the New York Times reports.
Not surprisingly, given the millions who have long treasured Smith’s “God Bless America,” the decision has generated some controversy on social media. Many are pointing out that other famous people and institutions — like the New York Yankees and all other baseball teams — have histories of racism as well.
I remember when the Yankees were racists too by refusing to allow black people to play baseball. Geez people need to remember that it was a different world in the 1930’s and need to stop with this Politically Correct stuff. Things happened many… https://t.co/YcGyaXkANj
— John Sweeney (@jsweeney10) April 19, 2019
So Kate Smith is now covered In Shame. Are we now going to do the same for George Washington and others who “owned “slaves
— Steve From Delco -We Have A Coach Again AV (@sec1968) April 19, 2019
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