The New York Yankees have decided to stop playing Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" after learning of her history of racist song lyrics, the New York Daily Newsreported on Thursday.
According to the Daily News, Smith was a famous singer during World War II and previously recorded a song titled "Pickaninny Heaven." The tune was "directed at 'colored children' who should fantasize about an amazing place with 'great big watermelons.'" The video that accompanied the song was shot in an orphanage for black children and included imagery that was "startlingly racist."
Smith also reportedly recorded a tune titled, "That's Why Darkies Were Born," which includes the lyric, "Someone had to pick the cotton... that's why darkies were born."
The Yankees investigated the claims and ultimately decided to drop the tradition of playing Smith's "God Bless America" in the seventh inning.
“The Yankees have been aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said, according to the Daily News. “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.”
The Yankees have replaced Smith's rendition with different version of the song.
New York is 8–9 on the season and sit 8.5 games behind the Rays in the American League East.