Yankees Drop 'God Bless America' Version Over Racism Claims

Kate Smith sang 'That's Why Darkies Were Born'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 19, 2019 12:20 AM CDT
New York Yankees players listen to "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch of the team's baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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(Newser) – The New York 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 singer. There are conflicting claims about Smith's 1939 song "That's Why Darkies Were Born," the New York Daily News reports. The song originated in the 1931 Broadway revue "George White's Scandals," and was considered satire. It was recorded by Smith and also by Paul Robeson, who was black, the AP reports. Smith also recorded "Pickaninny Heaven," which the Daily News describes as an "offensive jingle."

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 Wednesday and Thursday.

(Read more New York Yankees stories.)

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