Flyers cover statue of Kate Smith and Yankees pull ‘God Bless America’ because of racially insensitive lyrics

The statue of Kate Smith near the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia has been covered.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

The Philadelphia Flyers have draped a black cloth over a statue of singer Kate Smith that sits outside the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia after unearthing songs with racially insensitive lyrics by Smith in the 1930s.

This comes a day after the New York Yankees announced they will suspend the playing of Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. The club had been playing the song since 2001 in the wake of 9/11.

The Flyers began playing Smith’s version of “God Bless America” in place of “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1969. Smith performed the song throughout the 1970s at Flyers’ games, which led to the team erecting a statue of her in 1987.

Flyers officials said in a statement, “We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization.


“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.”

The Yankees, in their statement, said, “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.”

Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America” in 1918 during World War I and revised the track 20 years later during World War II with Smith doing the vocals on the 1938 version.

Smith died in 1986.