Kate Smith

Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images

Wildwood Mayor: Kate Smith's 'God Bless America' Will Still Play On Boardwalk

April 23, 2019 - 3:20 pm

WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- The mayor of a New Jersey shore town says they will continue to play Kate Smith's recording of "God Bless America'' on its boardwalk despite allegations of racism against the singer.
Wildwood has traditionally started each day by playing the song. Mayor Ernie Troiano says it's a patriotic song that has "nothing to do with anything but America.''
Troiano's comments come as the Yankees and Philadelphia Flyers decided to stop playing Smith's version of the song amid conflicting claims about several of her tunes, including her 1939 hit "That's Why the Darkies Were Born.'' The tune originated in the 1931 Broadway revue "George White's Scandals,'' and was considered satire at the time. Smith's likeness also appears in a 1939 ad that heavily uses the mammy caricature, one of the most well-known racist depictions of black women.
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan presented Smith with the presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

Smith died in 1986.