Flyers cover up Kate Smith statue, abandon her 'God Bless America' rendition due to racist songs
The Flyers' decision comes after a similar move by the New York Yankees
A day after the New York Daily News reported that the New York Yankees scrapped their 18-year tradition of playing Kate Smith's 1939 rendition of "God Bless America" during home games, the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers have followed suit.
As CBS Philly noted Friday, the Flyers announced they will no longer play Smith's song at Wells Fargo Center and have also covered up a statue of the World War II-era outside the arena.
The Daily News' original report indicated that the Yankees replaced Smith's version of the patriotic song after they "were made aware of Smith's history of potential racism." Among the evidence are her songs "Pickaninny Heaven," which was directed at "colored children," and "That's Why Darkies Were Born," which was recorded in 1939 as satire but included lyrics about "darkies" being born "to pick the cotton." The Flyers have echoed the Yankees' reported concerns with Smith's messages.
"We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization," the team said, per 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."
Although Smith died in 1986, she's long had a unique connection with the Flyers. The team began playing her recorded version of "God Bless America" in 1969, and the singer performed the song at a game several years later. That lead to a decades-long tradition in which Philadelphia would play Smith's version of the song before important games. The singer was honored with a statue in 1987, and up until 2016, the Flyers had paired video of Smith singing "God Bless America" with Lauren Hart's "The Star-Spangled Banner."
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