Two weeks ago outside Philadelphia, 65 children from a summer camp tried to go swimming at a club that their camp had a contract to use. Apparently, the people at the club didn’t know that the group of kids was predominantly Black.
When the campers entered the pool, White parents allegedly took their kids out of the water, and the swimming club’s staff asked the campers to leave. The next day, the club told the summer camp that their membership would be canceled and that their payment would be refunded. When asked why, the club’s manager said that a lot of kids “would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.”1
A “Whites only” pool in 2009 should not be tolerated. The club’s actions appear to be a violation of section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act.2 Whether or not any laws were violated, a “Whites only” pool should be something every American condemns.
Please join us in doing exactly that, and please email your friends and family and invite them to do the same. Your signature will also be used to call on the Department of Justice to evaluate suing the facility under federal law. It takes just a moment to do both, here:
Obama is President but that doesn’t mean that suddenly all is fine when it comes to race in America. This is a vivid reminder of what we know still lies beneath the surface.
We all know stories like this one — similar incidents play out quietly every day in different communities across the country. The difference in this case is that folks got caught and there was a contract in place that makes for a potentially illegal act.
Standing up now isn’t just about making things right for these kids in Philadelphia or bringing consequences to this swim club (called the Valley Swim Club). It’s about creating a climate of accountability everywhere. If we can publicly shame the Valley Swim Club and hold them accountable for this incident, it will make others think twice before engaging in what appears to be blatant discrimination.
Please join us in condemning the Valley Swim Club’s behavior and calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether they violated civil rights laws. And please ask your friends and family to do the same.
Thanks and Peace,
— James, Gabriel, William, Dani and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
July 10th, 2009
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1. “‘Pool Boots Kids Who Might “Change the Complexion,'” NBC Philadelphia, 07-08-09
2. “Section 1981 Summary,” Employment Law Information Network
“60 Black Kids Booted from Philly Pool For Being Black — Speak Out,” Jill Tubman at Jack and Jill Politics, 07-08-09
VIDEO: “Please Don’t Change the Complexion of our Pool,” This Week in Blackness, 07-08-09
“Swim Club Accused of Discrimination,” FOX 29 Philadelphia, 07-08-09
“Valley Swim Club: Day Two,” Adam B at Daily Kos, 07-08-09