The Philadelphia Flyers removed a statue of late singer Kate Smith outside National Hockey League team's arena Sunday, two days after covering it amid allegations of racism against the 1930s star with a popular recording of God Bless America.
"The NHL principle "Hockey is for Everyone" is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for", said Flyers president Paul Holmgren "As a result, we can not stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today". "As a result, we can not stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today".
Last week, the New York Yankees announced plans to stop playing Kate Smith's version of "God Bless America" due to the discovery of potentially racist lyrics in the artist's other songs.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday there are conflicting claims about Smith's 1939 song "That's Why Darkies Were Born".
But Troiano believes the song in question was not meant to offend anyone, explaining it was originally created in 1931 for "George White's Scandals" Broadway revue, which is a popular theatrical form of entertainment comprising of multiple acts, music, dance, and sketches.
Perhaps no vocalist was more identified with a professional sports team than Smith was with the Flyers, when her rendition of "God Bless America" was enthusiastically embraced by fans and she became a celebrated icon after she was well past the prime of her career. According to the team, they went 101-31-5 in games where her version of the song aired. A year after she died in 1986, the team erected a statue in her honour outside its arena.
Philadelphia Flyers remove statue of Kate Smith over racist songs
"While Kate Smith's performance of "God Bless America" can not be erased from its place in Flyers history, that rendition will no longer be featured in our game presentations", the team said. The team added that the statue was removed "to ensure the sentiments stirred this week are no longer echoed".
But those long-time traditions have been halted over allegations that other songs performed by Smith - one of America's biggest singing stars during the early 20th century - are racist. The organisation said it had discovered some of her songs contained racist lyrics and sentiments that were "incompatible" with their values.
Two of Smith's songs in particular, "That's Why Darkies Were Born" and "Pickaninny Heaven", have come under scrutiny in recent days.
Smith was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1982.
"Aunt Kathryn really did not see color", Suzy Andron told USA Today on Saturday.
Smith and Berlin both waived royalties for "God Bless America", which go to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations, her obit noted. She also sang 1931's "That's Why Darkies Were Born", which noted that "someone had to pick the cotton / someone had to pick the corn / someone had to slave and be able to sing / that's why darkies were born". "She was certainly anything but a prejudice (d) person".