Why Was 'God Bless America' Banned by Yankees and Flyers?

Kate Smith

Yankees Ditch Kate Smith’s Rendition of ‘God Bless America’ Due to Her Racist Songs Getty ImagesDYLAN GWINN18 Apr 2019

The club issued a statement about the issue, promising to look deeper into the allegations.

A spokesperson for the team told New York Daily News, "The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and chose to immediately and carefully review this new information".

The Yankees, in their statement, said, "The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously". But now both teams have retired Smith's 1939 recording following the discovery of offensive lyrics from her repertoire of songs.

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The regular playing of God Bless America became a staple at Yankees games following the attacks of September 11th.

The Yankees played an organ version of "God Bless America" on Wednesday and Thursday.

The song originated in a 1930s Broadway play, "George White's Scandals", and was considered satire at the time it was debuted.

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According to the Daily News, Smith also recorded "Pickaninny Heaven", which was directed at "colored children" who fantasize about frolicking in a place with "great big watermelons". The singer was honored with a statue in 1987, and up until 2016, the Flyers had paired video of Smith singing "God Bless America" with Lauren Hart's "The Star-Spangled Banner".

The Virginia-born Smith first rose to prominence just before World War II, and her ubiquitous contralto lead many to dub her "The First Lady of Radio".

Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" has been part of Flyers history going back to 1969, and the team would use it specifically for important games. The team has yet to publicly comment on the Yankees' decision to stop playing her rendition during games. Even if it were true that Kate Smith recorded a "racist" song by the standards of 80 years later-the other "questionable" song was part of a 1933 movie-that is an absurd reason to ban "God Bless America". Smith would later sing it in person numerous times, including right before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final.

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But Jack Fowler, a vice president of the National Review, argued Friday that the Yankees and Flyers were going too far in banishing Smith.

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