While allegations of racism have surrounded a famed version of “God Bless America,” the mayor of one shore town said it will continue to play the song for it’s patriotic message.
Mayor Ernie Troiano spoke to Philadelphia talk radio host Dom Giordano on WPHT 1210 AM Monday to say Wildwood will continue to play Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” on the Boardwalk.
“This is a patriotic song,” said Trioano, “we have no intention of removing it, and it’s not a statement that we don’t understand what’s going on or we’re ignorant to the history, we understand the history.”
Triano said it is a Wildwood and North Wildwood tradition to start the day by playing the National Anthem and God Bless America over the Boardwalk’s speaker system.
“It’s an Irving Berlin patriotic song that has nothing to do with anything but America,” Trioano said.
The Press attempted to contact the mayors, as well as the Greater Wildwoods Chamber of Commerce for further comment.
Last week, two professional sports teams announced they would no longer play the 1938 version of the song sung by Kate Smith, after allegations of racism emerged against her.
During the height of her fame in the 1920s and 1930s, Smith recorded songs that raised questions of possible racism, including a 1939 song that originated in the Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals.” The song, while considered satire at the time, includes derogatory references to blacks. Smith’s likeness also appeared in a 1939 ad that heavily used a the mammy caricature, one of the most well-known racist depictions of black women
The Philadelphia Flyers had used Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” before games since 1969, while the New York Yankees began to regularly play the same song during the seventh inning stretch following after Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
Over the weekend, a statue of Smith outside the Wells Fargo Center sports arena in South Philadelphia was removed, after previously being covered by a tarp.
“The NHL principle ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for,” said Flyers President Paul Holmgren in a statement issued Sunday. “As a result, we cannot stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.