The Philadelphia Flyers have removed a statue of Kate Smith and will no longer play the singer’s rendition of ‘God Bless America’ at games.
The move comes after racially insensitive songs performed by the singer more than 90 years ago resurfaced. The Philadelphia Flyers released an official statement on their decision, saying it was the right move.
The racist songs were recorded in the 1930s and included “Pickaninny Heaven” and “That’s Why Darkies Were Born.” The songs in question include several lyrics that are very racially insensitive.
Lyrics from the second song include:
Someone had to pick the cotton,
Someone had to pick the corn,
Someone had to slave and be able to sing,
That’s why darkies were born.
While Kate Smith did perform renditions of these songs, she did not personally author either of them. Accordingly, Smith’s family is appalled at the decision, with her niece saying she was the “nicest lady anyone could ever meet.”
“She was certainly anything but a prejudice person. She loved everybody.”
After the controversial recordings were unearthed last week, several sports organizations have dropped Smith. Her famous recording of “God Bless America” has been in use at Flyers’ games since 1969. When she died in 1986, the team had a statue erected in her honor. That statue is now removed.
Smith sang her rendition of ‘God Bless America’ live for The Flyers over several decades, including the team’s 1975 Stanley Cup win.
The New York Yankees also suspended their use of the song after the controversial recordings surfaced.
Flyers president Paul Homgren said,
“We cannot stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today.”
Smith’s family is asking The Flyers to reconsider their decision to remove the statue and song. They say their aunt is an important part of their the Flyers’ history.