Flyers Ken Giusini's fan from Philadelphia responds after the Flyers cover the statue of Kate Smith after recordings of the singer with offensive lyrics.
Chris LaChall / Staff Photographer

The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Yankees have taken steps in recent days to distance themselves from the late "God Bless America" ​​singer Kate Smith after learning that that she had sung two racially insensitive songs in the 1930s

Smith's family members say the developments made her "heartbreaking".

In an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Saturday night, Smith's niece Suzy Andron and her husband Bob said they were shocked and sad stories that had classified the deceased singer as racist because she had two songs in the early 1930s Title "Why are Darkies born" and "Pickaninnies & # 39; Heaven" listed. Both songs contain racist language and references, although the first was called satire and was performed by Paul Robeson, who was black.

The Covered Kate Smith Statue is in front of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. (Photo: David Maialetti, AP)

YANKEES: The team drops "God Bless America" ​​after being told about Kate Smith's racist songs

FLYERS: FLYERS: ] The team cuts shots of Kate Smith, covers her statue

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Bob Andron, 74, said he believes the People Smith dedicated two songs that were performed at the beginning of their careers when she was in her 20s and "tried to make a name for herself as a singer ". He said Smith played the songs but did not write them.

"It's someone who found the words to two songs she sang, from 3,000 that she recorded, and tried to make a case of it," said Bob Andron, 74. "And my heart goes Because they are misguided, they do not understand what kind of person Kate Smith was. "

Smith is best known for her portrayal of "God Bless America," which was played at the Yankee Stadium for 18 years before the team was recently "alerted to an unfamiliar recording."

The Flyers, who played Smith's iteration of the song as a lucky charm, quickly followed suit, explaining in a statement that they were putting Smith's shot out of their library and hiding the statue from her in front of their arena.

The New York Daily News, first reported that the Yankees Smiths iteration of James Smith had postponed "God Bless America," reported that the late singer also endorsed a product call in 1939 the "Mammy Doll" and described her as "based on a racist caricature of a black woman in the same Direction like Aunt Jemima. "Bob Andron said Smith was in favor of a number of companies, but he and his wife had" no idea "where the" Mammy Doll "Message came from.

Suzy Andron, who had previously worked at Smith in North Carolina, told her death in 1986 that she had never talked to her aunt about these particular songs or the ad. However, she strongly opposed the characterization of Smith as racist and said she was "saddened that a woman who has been dead for nearly 35 years would be attacked this way."

"Aunt Kathryn really did not see any color," Suzy said Andron. "She did not see the color of a person, she was very attuned to a person's character, and I've always thought that this is a model not to see a person's color, but to see their character, and that's why I'm unbelievable sad. "

Both Bob and Suzy Andron described Smith as a patriot who wanted to use their talents for the benefit of their country. According to "Kate Smith: An Organic Bibliography" the deceased singer was said to have helped during the Second World War with the sale of war bonds worth 600 million US dollars. In 1982 she received the President's Medal of Honor from Ronald Reagan as her health deteriorated.

Smith died of brain damage in 1986 due to a diabetic coma.

The Androns said "it's a shame" that Smith's voice will not be heard at Yankee Stadium anymore and they hope fans will continue to sing "God Bless America" ​​even without their recording.

"People can connect points in different ways," said Bob Andron. "These people – whoever they were – bless them, they linked the wrong points together."

Contact Tom Schad at or via Twitter @Tom_Schad .


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