The Observer-Reporter occasionally asks Facebook friends to respond to a question about an issue in the news. This week, we asked: “Sports teams have stopped playing Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America,” and the Philadelphia Flyers have covered the famous singer’s statue. What do you think about the controversy involving racist lyrics more than 30 years after Smith’s death?”
Rae Ransil: Kate Smith singing the Anthem is like apple pie. It’s America!
Judi Harper: Let it go! If we don’t move on, we will never overcome!
Norma Cushey: Loved watching Kate Smith singing “When the moon comes over the mountains!” A shame to remove her statue! I have her song book!
Brenda Powers: I looked up the lyrics, and they weren’t racist – or had they deleted some?
Bonnie Hill: The controversy is not over the lyrics of “God Bless America.” It’s regarding popular songs that she sang in the ‘30s. One such song was “That’s Why Darkies Were Born.” The tune was written for a Broadway revue entitled, “George White’s Scandals.” It was considered satire at the time. Back then when you signed a recording contract, you recorded what you were told to record. In a 1939 ad, Smith’s likeness was used in a caricature of a southern mammy.
The culture of 1939 is not the culture of 2019. We cannot erase our past just because we don’t like it. “God Bless America” is one of the greatest songs ever written, sung by one of the greatest singers of all time. Kate Smith’s statue deserves to stand, and “God Bless America” should be played or sung in every venue in America.
Dan White: Any, and/or all mainstream entertainment before the ‘60s had its hand in something “racist.” It was the times. Today’s society is on a downhill slope when actions like this prove that freedom is on the decline.