Fox News report baseball’s New York Yankees and hockey’s Philadelphia Flyers announced the moves last week, reportedly after learning that Smith – who died in 1986 at age 79 – had recorded songs containing racist lyrics and appeared in an ad that included racist imagery.
A statue of Smith at Philadelphia’s sports complex was covered in a black cloth after the Flyers made their decision.
“Aunt Kathryn really did not see color,” Suzy Andron told USAToday on Saturday. “She didn't see a person's color. She was very in tune with a person's character. I've always thought that was a model, to not see a person's color but to see their character. And this is why I'm incredibly sad.”
Andron told the paper she was upset “that a woman who has been dead for almost 35 years would be attacked in this way."
She and her husband, Bob, also noted that Smith had helped raise millions of dollars for the U.S. military effort during World War II. They said they hoped that fans of Smith would continue to sing “God Bless America,” even if not accompanied by Smith’s iconic 1930s recording of the song.