The Philadelphia Flyers covered 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 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 Yankees suspended 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. She 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.
Celebrities to raise voices on Earth Day
Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Leonardo DiCaprio have joined rapper-comedian Lil Dicky on a new song and video aimed at bringing awareness to climate change and Earth Day, which is Monday. Dicky released the animated clip for the song "Earth" on Friday, where Bieber is a baboon and Grande is a zebra. The video, featuring 32 artists, also stars Ed Sheeran (koala), Miley Cyrus (elephant), Shawn Mendes (rhino), Katy Perry (pony) and Kevin Hart as Kanye West. Dicky, best known for his 2018 hit "Freak Friday" with Chris Brown, says he "didn't really realize how insane our climate crisis is and how screwed humanity is about to be." He adds, "If we don't get our act together now, and change a lot about our fundamental behavior, Earth will become unlivable alarmingly soon."