Monday, July 13, 2009

Color of Change

Dear friends,

Two weeks ago outside Philadelphia, sixty-five children from a summercamp tried to go swimming at a club their camp had a contract to use.Evidently, the club didn't know the kids were largely Black.

When the campers entered the pool, White parents took their kids outof the water, and the swimming club's staff asked the campers toleave. The next day, the club told the summer camp that theirmembership would be canceled and that they would refund their money.When asked why, the club's leader said the "kids would change thecomplexion ... and the atmosphere of the club."

A "Whites only" pool in 2009 should not be tolerated. The club'sactions appear to be a violation of section 1981 of the Civil RightsAct. Whether or not any laws were violated, a "Whites only" poolshould be something every American condemns.

I've just joined in doing exactly that -- will you join me, and email your friends and family asking them to do the same? We're also calling on the Department of Justice to evaluate suing thefacility under federal law. It takes just a moment to do both, here:

Obama is President but that doesn't mean that suddenly all is finewhen it comes to race in America. This is a vivid reminder of what weknow still lies beneath the surface.

We all know stories like this one -- similar incidents play outquietly every day in different communities across the country. Thedifference in this case is that folks got caught and there was acontract in place that makes for a potentially illegal act.

Standing up now isn't just about making things right for these kids inPhiladelphia or bringing consequences to this swim club (called theValley Swim Club). It's about creating a climate of accountabilityeverywhere. If we can publicly shame the Valley Swim Club and hold themaccountable for this incident, it will make others think twice beforeengaging in this kind of discrimination.

Please join me in condemning the Valley Swim Club's blatant discriminationand calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether theyviolated civil rights laws. And please ask your friends and family to do the same.

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