At issue are two songs. In 1939, Smith recorded "That's Why Darkies Were Born." The song debuted in the 1931 Broadway revue, "George White's Scandals," and was considered satire, WPVI reported. The song, written by Ray Henderson and Lew Brown, was also recorded by Paul Robeson, who is black, the television station reported. The song includes the lyrics, "Someone had to pick the cotton," the Inquirer reported.
In the 1933 film "Hello, Everybody!" Smith sang "Pickaninny Heaven," which directs "colored children" living in an orphanage to dream about a place with "great big watermelons," the newspaper reported.
The Flyers have been using Smith's version of "God Bless America" since 1969, and "the Songbird of the South" sang the song live at the Spectrum when the Flyers played in the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals.
The statue of Smith was dedicated outside the Spectrum on Oct. 8, 1987, WPVI reported.