Yankees, Flyers drop Kate Smith’s “God Bless America’ amid racial concerns

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK -

The New York Yankees and Philadelphia Flyers have stopped using singer Kate Smith’s 1939 rendition of “God Bless America” at their games due to allegations of racism against the singer.

The New York Daily News reported Thursday there are conflicting claims about Smith's 1939 song "That's Why Darkies Were Born." The song originated in the 1931 Broadway revue "George White's Scandals," and was considered satire. It was recorded by Smith and also by Paul Robeson, who was black.

Yankees officials said in a statement: "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 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 Flyers have also chosen to cover a statue of Smith that is outside the Wells Fargo Center where the team plays. Flyers officials say that some of Smith’s songs “contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization."

Smith's connection with the Flyers started in 1969 when a team executive ordered her version of "God Bless America" to be played instead of "The Star-Spangled Banner." That led to her performing the song several times before games in the 1970s.

The Yankees have used her recording of "God Bless America" and sometimes live singers during the seventh inning since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They have used her version twice this season and have mostly played an organ version.

Smith died in 1986.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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