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New Sesame Place Video Emerges As Another Parent Complains Of Discrimination and Rev. Jesse Jackson Gets Involved

A pattern appears to suggest racial bias against Black children, meanwhile Rev. Jesse Jackson is offering a way to heal.

Another video has surfaced that appears to show a Sesame Place character shunning a Black child at the Philadelphia-area theme park. Meanwhile, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson has reached out to the park’s parent company hoping to create solutions.

Nathan Fleming recorded a video of his July 4 visit to the amusement park with his 5-year-old daughter, Olivia, about 12 days before New York mom Jodi Brown posted her viral video of a similar incident on Instagram.

Brown’s video put a national spotlight on what at first appeared to be a single incident of racism but now emerging as a possible pattern of racial bias at Sesame Place toward Black children, as more families come forward with similar complaints.

Fleming told CBS Philadelphia that a Sesame character seemingly ignored his daughter during the parade when the characters interacted with kids lining the street. “Fifteen to 20 minutes maybe went by where she didn’t get a high-five and I feel like she was being overlooked a bit,” he stated. At first, he thought maybe the character didn’t high-five Olivia because there were thousands of children along the parade route. So, he went into “dad mode” to get Olivia noticed.

“In the video, you can hear me, I’m yelling like towards him and I’m recording and pointing at her at the same time and as he’s walking towards her, I felt glorified like all right, it’s about it happen,” Fleming said.

“He is visibly walking to her and then in a split-second change, he sees another kid and goes the opposite direction,” Fleming continued.

The York, Pa. dad said his daughter has wanted nothing to do with her favorite Sesame characters since her visit to the park.

He said Sesame Place didn’t respond to his calls about the incident, adding that he would have welcomed a simple acknowledgement.

“It could have been something as small as inviting her back, maybe a meet and greet. Anything to help her regain her confidence,” he said.

Sesame Place responded to an inquiry from CBS Philadelphia. “We want every child who comes to our park to feel included, seen and inspired and we are disappointed to learn that this child came away from her experience in our park feeling disappointed. We are reaching out to the family to speak with them about it,” the park said in a statement.

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In Brown’s video, the Rosita character high-fives white people along the parade route. Her daughter and niece waited their turn and excitedly reached out to Rosita for a hug and high-five. But the person in the Rosita costume gestured “no” toward them and walked away, leaving the girls in shock by the apparent rejection.

Sesame Place released a statement on July 18 saying that it does not tolerate discrimination and explained that the costumes often “make it difficult to see at lower levels.”

But Brown’s attorney, B’Ivory Lamarr, said days later that at least 20 other families had contacted him about experiences similar to Brown at the theme park.

Meanwhile, Jackson, the founder and president of Rainbow Push Coalition, sent an open letter July 28 to Marc Swanson, CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., Sesame Place’s parent company.

“In our fight for freedom and equality, we have seen this recent incident with Sesame Place too many times to remember. Yet, one thing is for certain - without sincere action from corporations, discriminatory acts always return,” Jackson stated in the letter shared with BET.com.

“Sesame Place, which is owned by SeaWorld has not provided solutions that I trust will eradicate the culture that has stained this theme park with discriminatory practices. We need SeaWorld to take a stance against past practices and do what is necessary to end discriminatory acts at their theme parks.”

In the letter, Jackson called for solutions that include adding African Americans to SeaWorld’s board of directors, cultural sensitivity training by an African American firm, and designating a portion of its procurement budget for hiring Black-owned businesses.

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