Flyers drop Kate Smith's recording of 'God Bless America' over earlier racist songs

The Philadelphia Flyers have followed the lead of the New York Yankees, halting singer Kate Smith's recording of "God Bless America" after an allegation of potential racism in her music, WPVI reported.

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The team also covered a bronze statue of the singer, who died in 1986, that stands outside the Wells Fargo Center, the The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In a statement, the Flyers said, "We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization. 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."

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On Thursday, the Yankees suspended the use of Smith's recorded version of the song, which the team has used during the seventh-inning stretch since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, WPVI reported.

At issue are two songs. In 1939, Smith recorded "That's Why Darkies Were Born." The song debuted in the 1931 Broadway revue, "George White's Scandals," and was considered satire, WPVI reported. The song, written by Ray Henderson and Lew Brown, was also recorded by Paul Robeson, who is black, the television station reported. The song includes the lyrics, "Someone had to pick the cotton," the Inquirer reported.

In the 1933 film "Hello, Everybody!" Smith sang "Pickaninny Heaven," which directs "colored children" living in an orphanage to dream about a place with "great big watermelons," the newspaper reported.

The Flyers have been using Smith's version of "God Bless America" since 1969, and "the Songbird of the South" sang the song live at the Spectrum when the Flyers played in the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals.

The statue of Smith was dedicated outside the Spectrum on Oct. 8, 1987, WPVI reported.

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