Kate Smith’s 1939 rendition of “God Bless America” is officially out at New York’s Yankee Stadium during the seventh-inning stretch because of Smith’s other songs, which are purportedly racially charged.
The Yankees announced Thursday that they will no longer play Smith’s version of the song because she sang other songs with purportedly racist lyrics.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner insisted that “God Bless America” — with Smith’s version in regular rotation— be played during the seventh-inning stretch.
In March, the team became aware of the potential racial connotations in Smith’s musical history and opted to cut her version of the song altogether, replacing it with an instrumental version of the song.
A spokesperson for the team told New York Daily News, “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 club added that they would rather err on the side of caution and “sensitivity” rather than potentially offend someone by playing the 80-year-old — and perhaps most recognizable — version of the song.
“The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously,” the statement explained. “And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
Smith’s song catalogue includes 1931’s ” That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which had lyrics that said: “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.”
The song’s history has been questioned in the past, with some critics calling it outright racist, while others said that song was a satirical take on racism and white supremacy.
According to the Daily News, Smith also recorded “Pickaninny Heaven,” which was directed at “colored children” who fantasize about frolicking in a place with “great big watermelons.”