NAACP Responds to Racial Exclusion of Children at a Philadelphia Swimming Pool

By Benjamin Todd Jealous,
President and CEO, NAACP

The NAACP deplores the recent incident of racial discrimination at the Valley Swim Club in Philadelphia, in which a group of black day-camp children were told to leave a pool because they “changed the complexion and atmosphere” of the facility.

Is this the year 2009, or 1959?

This egregious episode casts us back in time, to the long, shameful era of Jim Crow segregation in America.  It is especially pernicious because it sends a terrible message to black and white children, a message that has the potential to deeply scar their burgeoning identities. As a parent, I am personally outraged by the reported comments of the director at the Valley Swim Club, John Duesler, who associated the skin-color of the visiting black children from the Creative Steps Day Camp with something that is dirty or foul.

In reality, it is the actions and comments of the director of the Valley Swim Club which are disgusting.

We demand a thorough investigation, and are pleased to learn that the Human Relations Commission in suburban Montgomery County is now looking into the case. We want Mr. Duesler and other officials and board members at that facility to immediately and clearly revise their position on not allowing African-American children access to their pool. 

Almost a decade into the 21st Century, it is inexcusable for an organization, institution, or facility to systematically exclude participation from individuals based on their skin color or gender. It is heartbreaking to witness such an offensive episode of exclusion at this juncture in our history.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members in the U.S. around the world advocate for civil and human rights, conducting voter mobilization campaigns, and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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