Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joins family in call for action amid Sesame Place racism claims

NEW YORK (WPVI) – The family of two young black girls at the center of a viral video captured at Sesame Place will hold a news conference Saturday with their attorneys, including prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

The group is expected to discuss the incident at 12:00 p.m. and deliver a call to action for those outraged by the incident.

It comes after a nine-second video posted to Instagram on July 16 by Jodi Brown, the mother of one of the girls, showed the character Rosita high-fiving a white child and woman, then gesturing “no” and walking away were two girls who had stretched out their arms for a hug and high-five during the parade at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

In a statement, Sesame Place called the family’s experience “unacceptable” and said they would like to personally apologize and hear from the family.

“We sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to the Brown family for what they have experienced. To put it bluntly, what the two young girls went through, what the family went through is unacceptable. It happened at our park, with our team, and we stand for it. It is our responsibility to make this better for the children and the family and for all families.”

Brown was accompanied by her attorney, B’Ivory LaMarr, to a press conference outside the Sesame Workshop in New York City earlier this week.

Despite the park’s apology, Brown says she’s not convinced as backlash over the incident continues to mount.

The two little girls’ family demands more from Sesame Place to make amends.

Lamarr said they don’t want to sue the company, it’s not about money, it’s about getting things right — and that hasn’t happened yet.

“They’ve been telling these kids for years, ‘Come and play, everything’s fine, nice neighbors over there, we’ll meet there, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?'” he said. “And once these kids figure out how to get to Sesame Street… they embrace these friendly neighbors with open arms, for what? To get fired? to be rejected? And to have your park underlaid?”

LaMarr said he has additional documentation about the incident and may release it depending on Sesame Place’s further actions.

“We have information that we possess – we will give this company, they have less than 12 hours to release information with a very sincere and authentic apology – or we will provide evidence showing exactly what happened to complement that.” video you’ve already seen,” LaMarr said.

LaMarr said the evidence relates to family comments that the Rosita character hugged a white child after walking past the two girls.

In an initial statement Sunday, Sesame Place said the park and its employees stand for “inclusiveness and equality in all forms.” The statement also noted that performers sometimes miss requests for hugs because the costumes they wear make them difficult to see at lower levels.

“The Rosita actor did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding,” the statement said.

However, many people have expressed outrage online and some have called for a boycott of the amusement park.

The park issued a second statement Monday, apologizing again and promising it was “taking action to make it better.” These efforts also include inclusion training for employees.

The family said they showed the video to Sesame Place right after the incident and said the character didn’t act that way towards white children who were there.

“This mother tried to solve this problem immediately,” Lamarr said. “This was not about advertising. It wasn’t about money. She immediately went to management at the park. She showed them the same video that millions of people in this country and around the world have seen. Sesame Place had an opportunity to see this video at that time. You have chosen to reject it. You have decided to dismiss this family.

Brown said staff told her there was no supervisor available at the park at the time.

The company also invited the family to return to the park, promising a better experience, but their attorney said they were unwilling to accept that.

“I just feel like the apologies weren’t genuine, and I believe the apologies are being released now because they caused so much uproar,” Brown said. “I want them to be able to do the right thing as I, my niece and my daughter have all suffered from embarrassment (and) discriminatory behavior.”

Lamarr said they want the person in the Rosita costume fired, and he also wants the park to pay for any mental health care costs for the children as a result of the incident.

The family and lawyer said Brown’s daughter, who was not at the press conference, was at home in isolation.

“We reject any notion that the performer’s actions last Saturday were anything but intended,” Lamarr said. “I know our black girls are magical, but I didn’t know they were invisible. We’re sick of your excuses. We’re fed up with justifications. We will not tolerate racism in this country.”

Lamarr said a big problem is that this wasn’t an isolated incident, and he’s been contacted by at least two dozen other families who claim they’ve experienced racism at Sesame Square.

He said these allegations are being investigated.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All rights reserved. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joins family in call for action amid Sesame Place racism claims

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