PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Legendary singer Kate Smith’s family had no idea the Philadelphia Flyers removed her iconic statue from the Xfinity Live! and the Wells Fargo Center until they were told by Eyewitness News on Sunday. The statue came down Sunday morning.
“I’m appalled,” Suzy Andron, Smith’s niece, said Sunday evening.
She and her husband, Bob Andron, are both in disbelief after learning only the base of Smith’s statue now remains.
The Flyers announced on Friday that the team would stop playing the late singer’s version of “God Bless America” during special events and the playoffs. It dated back to when the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1975.
The team distanced itself from Smith after learning she sang racially-insensitive songs early in her career in the 1930s.
The Flyers said in a statement Sunday, “We cannot stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today.”
“Aunt Katherine was probably one of the kindest people I’ve ever met,” Andron said. “She was certainly anything but a prejudice person. She loved everybody.”
Andron insisted Smith nor her songs were racist and added it’s unfair for the Flyers to react so quickly.
Now, Smith’s family has message for the Flyers.
“I think you need to go back and look back at your own history and what Aunt Katherine gave to that team,” she said.
Smith’s family said she never took singing lessons despite being dubbed, “The song bird of the South.”
Smith’s family is also hoping the Flyers rethink their decision to remove the statue and to stop playing her song heard so many times throughout the team’s history.
“We need the words and the song of ‘God Bless America’ singing loud again,” Bob Andron said.