Flyers remove Kate Smith statue outside stadium

Kate Smith performs

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

National Hockey League team the Philadelphia Flyers have officially removed a statue of singer Kate Smith outside their stadium, after the team's management said they learnt that some of her songs contained "racist lyrics and sentiments". "As we continue to look into this serious matter, we are removing Kate Smith's recording of "God Bless America" from our library and covering up the statue that stands outside our arena".

Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" has been used by the Flyers since 1969, but will no longer be played as a result of the investigation.

But on Sunday the Flyers announced they had removed the statue, saying the team had discovered some of her songs contained racist lyrics and sentiments that were "incompatible" with the organization's values.

Kate Smith (1909-1986), the American singer and popular radio performer in the 1930s and 1940s, with composer Arthur Johnston in a 1933 file photo.

Smith, one of America's biggest singing stars of the early- to mid-20th century, had performed the song before Flyers games in the 1970s.

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On Friday, the Philadelphia team had covered the statue with black cloth. "No single show-business figure even approached her as a seller of War Bonds during World War II". But modern-day audiences inevitably cringe at lines like: "Someone had to pick the cotton / Someone had to plant the corn / Someone had to slave and be able to sing / That's why darkies were born". "As a result, we can not stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today". Her legendary status culminated in a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1982, bestowed by then-President Ronald Reagan.

Last week, the New York Yankees pulled Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" from the stadium's 7th-inning stretch, which had been a tradition at Yankee Stadium for almost two decades.

Troiano told Giordano he and other officials understand the history and the problems with racist lyrics in other songs. "That's Why Darkies Were Born" was first performed in 1931 through 'George White's Scandals, ' a series of Broadway revues.

"If 'That's Why Darkies Were Born, ' isn't satire, the lyrics are inexcusable".

"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.

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Clay Travis, a sports columnist, also slammed the decision.

Khalif, who is also running for City Council, said he and other activists had expressed their anger over Smith's work to the team for more than a year.

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

"Aunt Katherine was probably one of the kindest people I've ever met", Suzy Andron added to KYW. She didn't see a person's color.

Andron said that neither Smith nor her songs were racist and said the Flyers reacted too quickly.

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"I'm a small town mayor, and I look at what's happening to the world, and it's awesome how everyone wants to rewrite history", Troiano Jr. said.

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