Sesame Place issues new apology amid racism claims and demands from family

"To be very clear, what the two young girls experienced, what the family experienced, is unacceptable."

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Saturday, July 23, 2022
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A second video has since been released showing the girls from the other side of the parade route.

LANGHORNE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Sesame Place issued a new apology Thursday night after a video appeared to capture a costumed character ignoring two Black children during a parade last weekend at the theme park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

"We sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to the Brown family for what they experienced. To be very clear, what the two young girls experienced, what the family experienced, is unacceptable. It happened in our park, with our team, and we own that. It is our responsibility to make this better for the children and the family and to be better for all families," a portion of the statement read. (Read the full statement below the story.)

Jodi Brown says her daughter and niece were snubbed by the Rosita character on Saturday, July 16.

The nine-second video, posted to Instagram by Brown, showed the character high-fiving a white child and woman, then gesturing "no" and walking away from the two girls who had their arms stretched out for a hug and high-five during the parade.

Brown says the character was intentionally racist toward her family.

"Right after the character passed them, there was another little girl next to them who was of a different race and (Rosita) hugged her," the mother said.

Brown was joined by her attorney B'Ivory LaMarr Wednesday for a press conference outside Sesame Workshop in New York City.

LaMarr said they don't want to sue the company and it isn't about money; he said it is about making things right.

"You told these kids for years 'come and play, everything's OK, friendly neighbors there, that's where we meet, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?' And once these kids figure out how to get to Sesame Street...they reach out in open arms to these friendly neighbors, for what? To be dismissed? To be rejected? And to leave your park inferior," LaMarr said.

Sesame Place says it has been in contact with the family since Sunday and has requested to apologize in person.

"We want to listen to them to understand how the experience impacted their family and to understand what we can do better for them and all guests who visit our parks," the theme park said.

A second video has since been released showing the girls from the other side of the parade route.

Lamarr writes "this video clearly show that (the girls) were approximately 2 feet away from the Caucasian lady with the purple shirt, who was the last person to receive a high-five from Rosita."

He said a major problem is that this wasn't an isolated incident, and he's been contacted by at least two dozen more families alleging they experienced racism at Sesame Place.

Cydney Moore, who lives in North Carolina, saw the video after it went viral. She says the same Sesame Place character ignored her two-year-old son back on July 8.

"He was let down. He was disappointed. He didn't understand," said Moore.

The Brown family said they showed the video to Sesame Place right after it happened, saying the character did not behave this way toward white children who were there.

"This mother tried to resolve this issue immediately. This wasn't about any publicity. This wasn't about any money. She went to management immediately at the park. She showed them the same video that millions of people across this country and the world have seen. Sesame Place had an opportunity to see that video at that time. They chose to reject it. They chose to dismiss this family," LaMarr said.

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

LaMarr said they want the person in the Rosita costume fired. He also wants the park to pay for any mental care expenses the kids will need as a result of the incident.

On Friday afternoon it was announced that nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump has now joined this case and is planning a press conference on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Action News did reach out to a spokeswoman for B'Ivory LaMarr Thursday night but we have not heard back.

Read the full statement released by Sesame Place below:

"We sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to the Brown family for what they experienced. To be very clear, what the two young girls experienced, what the family experienced, is unacceptable. It happened in our park, with our team, and we own that. It is our responsibility to make this better for the children and the family and to be better for all families.We have been in contact with the family since Sunday morning and we remain in contact through their lawyer Mr. LaMarr. We have offered to meet the family and their attorney in person, as early as today, to personally deliver an apology and an acknowledgement that we are holding ourselves accountable for what happened. We want to listen to them to understand how the experience impacted their family and to understand what we can do better for them and all guests who visit our parks. We are committed to learning all we can from this situation to make meaningful change. We want every child who comes to our park to feel included, seen and inspired.We are taking action and are reviewing our practices to identify necessary changes, both in the immediate and long-term. We are instituting mandatory training for all of our employees so that we can better recognize, understand, and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests. We have already engaged with nationally recognized experts in this area.We take this extremely seriously; we are heartbroken by what these young girls and this family experienced in our park. It is antithetical to our values, principles and purpose. We are committed to working tirelessly and intentionally to make this situation better. We will do the necessary work for the long haul -- not just in the public eye, but also behind the scenes and within ourselves."