New York Yankee’s and the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers pull Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” after racist songs resurface.
Smith’s version of the track, recorded in 1939, has been used in the seventh inning of Yankee games since the 2001 9/11 terrorist attacks. The New York Daily News reported that fans were outraged upon a recent unearthing of some of Smith’s past tracks, including an offensive song from the movie “Hello, Everybody.” The 1933 song entitled “Pickaninny Heaven,” sung of “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons.” The movie took place in an orphanage for Black children.
Another blatantly offensive song Smith was well known for was “That’s Why Darkies Were Born.” The song is originally from the 1931 Broadway show George White’s Scandals. However, there have been claims that the track, recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson – a Black musician – was actually satire.
Smith also endorsed a children’s toy called the “Mammy Doll” in the same year she recorded the well known American sports anthem, according to New York Daily News.
Along with suspending the use of her track, the team released an official statement to fans:
“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,” the team said. “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.”
In the meantime, the team has opted to use an organ version of “God Bless America,” instead while the claims against Smith are investigated.
On Friday, one day later, the Philadelphia Flyers also sought to distance themselves from Smith’s music. The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers joined baseball’s New York Yankees in halting the playing of Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” at home games because of lyrics in other songs the late singer recorded. The Flyers also covered up a statue of Smith that has stood at Philadephia’s sports complex since 1987, CNN reports.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 21, 2019