*

upload_article_image

Flyers cover statue of singer Smith amid racism allegations

The Philadelphia Flyers are covering a statue of singer Kate Smith outside their arena, following the New York Yankees in cutting ties and looking into allegations of racism against the 1930s star with a popular recording of "God Bless America."

Flyers officials said Friday they also plan to remove Smith's "God Bless America" recording from their library. They say several other songs performed by Smith "contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization."

The New York Daily News reported the Yankees suspending their use of Smith's recording during the seventh-inning stretch amid conflicting claims about several of her songs, including a 1939 song "That's Why the Darkies Were Born." The tune originated in the 1931 Broadway revue "George White's Scandals," and was considered satire at the time. Smith's likeness also appears in a 1939 ad that heavily uses the mammy caricature, one of the most well-known racist depictions of black women.

FILE - In this May 13, 1975, file photo, Kate Smith sings "God Bless America" before an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia. The New York Yankees have suspended the use of Smith's recording of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch while they investigate an allegation of racism against the singer. (AP Photo, File)

Smith died in 1986.

Smith's connection with the Flyers started in 1969 when a team executive ordered her version of "God Bless America" to be played instead of "The Star Spangled Banner." That led to her performing the song several times before games in the 1970s.

The Yankees have used her recording of "God Bless America" and sometimes live singers during the seventh inning since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They have used her version twice this season and have mostly played an organ version.

A television photographer records the partially covered statue of singer Kate Smith near the Wells Fargo Center, Friday, April 19, 2019, in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Flyers covered the statue of singer Kate Smith outside their arena, following the New York Yankees in cutting ties and looking into allegations of racism against the 1930s star with a popular recording of "God Bless America." Flyers officials said Friday they also plan to remove Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” from their library. They say several songs performed by Smith “contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization.” (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

New York Yankees players listen to "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch of the team's baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. The Yankees have suspended the use of Kate Smith's recording of the song while they investigate an allegation of racism against the singer. The New York Daily News reported there are conflicting claims about Smith's 1939 song "That's Why Darkies Were Born." The song originated in the 1931 Broadway review "George White's Scandals," and was considered satire. It was recorded by Smith and by Paul Robeson, who was black. (AP PhotoJulio Cortez)