PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Yankees stopped using Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” after learning about her alleged history of racism, per the New York Daily News. Smith’s 1939 recording was played during the seventh inning for 18 years. Smith is well known for singing the song before Flyers games in the 1970’s.
According to the New York Daily News report, the Yankees made the decision after learning of Smith’s history of singing songs with racist language such as “Pickaninny Heaven” and “That’s Why Darkies Were Born.”
A Yankees spokesperson told the New York Daily News:
“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 New York Daily News reported the Yankees acted quickly despite “some conflicting notions regarding the song ‘That’s Why Darkies Were Born,’ in particular, because it was considered satire at the time.”
Smith is most famous in the Philadelphia sports scene for performing “God Bless America” before Flyers games in the 1970’s.
The Flyers and Smith shared a special relationship that has lasted long after her 1986 death.
Before playoff games, the Flyers have long paired video of Smith performing “God Bless America” with Lauren Hart for a duet.
The team, however, has not used the rendition since the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In 1987, one year after Smith died, the Flyers erected a statue honoring Smith outside the Spectrum. That statue now stands between the Wells Fargo Center and Xfinity Live!.
CBS3 reached out to the Philadelphia Flyers for comment.