Philadelphia Flyers Remove Kate Smith Statue Due to Racism Controversy

Kate Smith performs

Kate Smith performs"God Bless America before a Philadelphia Flyers hockey game during the 1970s

"While Kate Smith's performance of "God Bless America" can not be erased from its place in Flyers history, that rendition will no longer be featured in our game presentations", the team wrote. The contralto's version of the song has been the quintessential version for decades.

But both teams announced they would stop playing the song, and the Flyers covered Smith's statue, as they looked into reports she recorded songs called "That's Why Darkies Were Born" and "Pickaninny Heaven". Her statue was erected outside the Spectrum in 1987 and moved to the Xfinity Live! entertainment complex in 2011.

"While Kate Smith's performance of "God Bless America" can not be erased from it place Flyers history, that rendition will no longer be featured in our game presentations", the Flyers statement concluded.

The Flyers played Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" for good luck before must-win games beginning in 1969.

The decision to ditch Smith for racist songs that were recorded almost 90 years ago was widely panned, with Smith's family saying that they were "appalled" by the decision.

The Flyers quoted team president Paul Holmgren as saying: "The NHL principle "Hockey is for Everyone" is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for".

A partially covered statue of singer Kate Smith is seen near the Wells Fargo Center, Friday, April 19, 2019, in Philadelphia.

The team followed that move by removing the statue altogether, saying in a ratioed Twitter statement - in which responses outnumber likes - that "we can not stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today".

The organization previously determined to cover up the statue, only to remove it after further researching the allegations levied against Smith.

On Friday, the Flyers said Smith's God Bless America recording had been removed from their library, following a similar move by MLB's New York Yankees.

The Flyers enjoyed a "long and popular" relationship with Smith's "God Bless America" rendition, but the team learned in recent days that her 1930s songs "evoke painful and unacceptable themes", the statement said.

Another of Smith's songs was "That's Why Darkies Were Born", which is also racist.

According to the right-leaning Washington Examiner, the lyrics are racist but the song may have been satirical. "That's why darkies were born".

Smith's family responded on Sunday after the Flyers removed the statue, criticizing the team for the move.

"It's somebody who found the words to two songs that she sang, out of 3,000 that she recorded, and tried to make a case out of it", Bob Andron, 74, told USA Today this weekend.

"Aunt Katherine was probably one of the kindest people I've ever met", Suzy Andron added to KYW. "Thanks to her they have become a cherished part of all our lives, an undying reminder of the beauty, the courage and the heart of this great land of ours".

"God Bless America" plays at 11 a.m. daily on the Wildwood boardwalk. "She was certainly anything but a prejudiced person".

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