‘Racist lyrics and sentiments’: Philadelphia Flyers remove statue to singer Kate Smith

Apr 25, 2019, 00:37
‘Racist lyrics and sentiments’: Philadelphia Flyers remove statue to singer Kate Smith

A statue in honor of Smith was covered and dismantled on April 22 outside of the Philadelphia Flyers' arena where her version of "God Bless America" was also played before games.

"The NHL principle "Hockey is for Everyone" is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for", Flyers President Paul Holmgren.

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 mayor's remarks came just days after the New York Yankees stopped playing "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch until an investigation into claims that Smith's music promoted racist views has ended.

The Yankees had played the Smith recording of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch since shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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The tune originated in the 1931 Broadway revue "George White's Scandals", and was considered satire at the time.

Smith's likeness also appeared in a 1939 ad that heavily used the mammy caricature, one of the most well-known racist depictions of black women.

She later performed the song several times before games during the 1970s, including Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup final against Boston. A year after she died in 1986, the team erected a statue in her honour outside its arena.

"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 said in a statement. It was recorded by Smith and also by Paul Robeson, who was black.

That ended with the action of one person, a Yankees fan who contacted the team about two songs recorded by Kate Smith.

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All that's left now is the base upon which Smith's statue stood.

Ronald Reagan at one point had even awarded Smith a Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to the USA during World War II.

I heard "God Bless America" played at Globe Life Park Sunday as I watched the game on television between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.

Their suspension decision was reached in part because of her hit "That's Why Darkies Were Born" and another entitled "Pickaninny Heaven".

"I'm appalled", Suzy Andron, Smith's niece, told CBS Philadelphia. She was known for her patriotism and even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1982 by President Reagan as her health was in decline. In a scene in which she sang to black children listening to her on the radio, she dedicated the song to "a lot of little colored children living in an orphanage" and sang of how "great big watermelons roll around and get in your way" and "luscious pork chop bushes bloom right outside your doorway". In the song, she sings: "Someone had to pick the cotton, Someone had to pick the corn, Someone had to slave and be able to sing, That's why darkies were born".

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