NEW YORK — The Yankees have suspended the use of Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch while they investigate an allegation of racism against the late singer.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born.” The song originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire, but includes racist language. It was recorded by Smith and also by Paul Robeson, who was black.
The team said in a statement: “The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information. The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
Smith died in 1986. The Yankees have used her recording of “God Bless America” and sometimes live singers during the seventh inning since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They used an organ version of the song on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Friday, the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers also announced its intent to distance themselves from Smith and her rendition of the song.
“We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization,” said the Flyers in a statement. “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 of our arena.”
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