A statue honoring the late singer stood near the Wells Fargo Center where the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team play. It was removed under the cover of darkness and without any public announcement.
Smith’s niece, Suzy Andron, was being interviewed by KYW-TV when she found out the statue was gone.
“They took the statue?” she asked, visibly shocked.
Andron insisted that her aunt was not prejudiced.
The Flyers and the New York Yankees are no longer playing Smith's version of the song during games. The ban follows the recent re-surfacing of two songs that Smith recorded when she was 23 that people say contained demeaning and racist lyrics. She sang, “Someone had to pick the cotton / Someone had to plant the corn.”
Bob Andron is married to Suzy. He appeared on Fox News Thursday to defend the late singer's reputation.
He said that his wife and her aunt were very close and that Smith was not a racist.
“She never was a racist and my wife’s reaction was she was heartbroken,” he said.