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NY Post, TVWeek

Pro Sports Teams Distance Themselves From Kate Smith and Her Rendition of ‘God Bless America’

Apr 22, 2019  •  Post A Comment

Singer Kate Smith, whose rendition of “God Bless America” was something a lot of U.S. kids grew up with, is at the center of a firestorm over allegations of racism.

The New York Post reports that the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers removed a statue of Smith from outside the team’s arena.

“The removal of the statue ends the team’s ‘long and popular relationship’ with Smith, whose version of ‘God Bless America’ had been part of the team’s game presentations since 1969 when a team executive ordered her rendition to be played instead of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’” The Post reports. “She later performed the song several times before games during the 1970s, including Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup final against Boston.”

Smith, who hailed from Greenville, Va., and became known as the First Lady of Radio, died in 1986 at age 79.

The Post reports that the Flyers’ decision “follows allegations of racism in connection with some of Smith’s songs, including a 1939 tune called ‘That’s Why the Darkies Were Born’ and ‘Pickaninnies’ Heaven’ from the early 1930s. Both songs include racist language and references, although the former has been claimed to be satirical.”

In a statement released Sunday, the Flyers said: “In recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”

The Flyers’ decision follows a similar decision by the New York Yankees, who pulled the plug on the team’s use of Smith’s “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch.

The Flyers’ statement added: “While Kate Smith’s performance of ‘God Bless America’ cannot be erased from its place in Flyers history, that rendition will no longer be featured in our game presentations. And to ensure the sentiments stirred this week are no longer echoed, earlier today we completed the removal of the Kate Smith statue from its former location outside of our arena.”

5 Comments

  1. People are getting so sick these days. They are looking to blame others for everything and take none of the responsibility for their own actions. Is it so hard for everyone to just grow up and quite trying to find fault in everything.

  2. It’s a mistake to try to view pop culture from 90 years ago in today’s terms and definitions. If there is any evidence that Kate Smith is a racist, this is not it.

  3. Kate Smith was one of the kindest and bravest people in America. In the 1950’s when the modern civil rights movement was just beginning, she had one of the highest rated TV programs in America. She took the risk of losing her show and position as a major star, by having Josephine Baker on her program. Introducing her to a mass audience, many of whom never had heard of Ms. Baker before that appearance. To accuse her of being a racist because of singing a song as part of a that at the time in the 1930’s was considered a parody is cruel and blames her for a different culture that existed at that time. Removing her from the Philadelphia Flyers games is an incredible example relenting to the minority, but loud politically correct, and takes away one of the great American traditions. If she had known that the song would be considered a racist song 80 years later, she would never have sang it.

  4. WTF……1930s !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😖

  5. Apparently, if you have done anything in your past, which was perfectly acceptable at the time, you are to be condemned. No matter that when you knew better you did better. So glad there are so many perfect people in this world to pass judgment on all us and hove no tolerance for the forgiveness of mistakes.

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