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Swimming pool refuses access to black and Hispanic children

Video by Oliver FARRY , FRANCE 2

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-07-15

A national controversy was sparked when a suburban Philadelphia pool asked 65 black and Hispanic children from a summer club not to return, reimbursing the children's entrance fees. Now the pool managers say they would like the kids back.

On June 29, a group of black and Hispanic children at the private Valley Club swimming pool in suburban Philadelphia were asked not to come back, sparking a controversy over allegations of racism in the national headlines.

The 65 children were staying at a summer camp, which paid the Valley Club pool $1,950 so that the youngsters could use the pool every Monday. But once there, some children said they heard people asking what "black children" were doing there and expressing fear of thefts. Some white families then reportedly withdrew their children from the pool.

Human Rights Commission investigation

The summer camp was reimbursed for the $1,950 a few days later, with no explanation. Later, the pool's management refuted allegations of racism and said the kids were turned away because the pool was overbooked. "We underestimated our capacity to handle this many children in a safe environment," said John Duesler, the club's president.

While some parents are considering suing for racism, an investigation has been launched by the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission. According to, Bernice Duesler, the wife of the club's president, proposed on Sunday that the children could come back to the pool. "As long as we can work out safety issues, we'd like to have them back," she told CNN. It remains to be seen whether the children will want to go back to the pool.

Date created : 2009-07-14