Protest Racism at The Valley Swim Club

You may have read or heard or yesterday that a Huntingdon Valley swim club decided to cancel an agreement with a Northeast Philadelphia day camp to allow campers to swim at the club two time a week because, the black campers would “change the complexion…and atmosphere of the club.” Kids who came to swim were summarily asked to leave the pool and told not to come back?

What is there to say to decent people about the existence of blatant racism in this day and age? It’s grossly immoral. It’s enormously ignorant. It’s a throwback to days most of us hoped were long gone.

And it can’t be allowed to stand without legal action and protest. Not to stand up and say that this sort of behavior is beyond the pale, is to allow it, and the attitudes behind it, to survive one more day.

So, an initial protest against the club will take place today at 5:30 pm. Come to the club, 22 Tomlinson Road, Huntingdon Valley 19006-4219.

The best things in America, including our efforts to overcome the worst thing in America, our legacy of racism were created by small acts of love and self-sacrifice—individual acts of moral heroism—on the part of millions of people.

Now is your time to join us in such an act. Sacrifice an hour or two of your day to stand against racism.

And please forward this widely to your friends.

Here's mapquest of the area, pinpointing the swim club address:

We at Bushwood awre naaaaaht racist.

Hi. Steve from VA here. I'm white, not that that matters .. but stuff like this (now on national news AND local affiliates here in VA ..Go get 'em!) This complaint by Miss Wright MUST be legit: she and her kids in that great Creative group are now out $2K, VC cashed that a while ago, they couldn't go to the pool and obviously VC did not notify the group (BULL - %^*&!), after I'm sure Ms. Wright talked to some jackass there several times before they were supposed to go, and lastly damn that place because there is no character, no heart, no integrity as people .. saying F/U to those kids. What the hell kind of place does that. They were stalling...VC; Just like with what's happening around the world, you guys say what you have to say with pride and peace. Best to you. (should be

The Valley Club is deeply troubled by the recent allegations of racism which are completely untrue.
We had originally agreed to invite the camps to use our facility, knowing full well that the children from the camps were from multi-ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that we underestimated the capacity of our facilities and realized that we could not accommodate the number of children from these camps. All funds were returned to the camps and we will re-evaluate the issue at a later date to determine whether it can be feasible in the future.

Our Valley Club deplores discrimination in any form, as is evidenced by our multi-ethnic and diverse membership.


Whatever comments may or may not have been made by an individual member is an opinion not shared by The Valley Club Board.

Natasha from VC

It must be much easier to see from VA what is going on here. And our brilliant press is doing a great job. Action Alert

This has been released by

Two weeks ago outside Philadelphia, 65 children from a summer camp tried to go swimming at a club that their camp had a contract to use. Apparently, the people at the club didn't know that the group of kids was predominantly Black.

When the campers entered the pool, White parents allegedly took their kids out of the water, and the swimming club's staff asked the campers to leave. The next day, the club told the summer camp that their membership would be canceled and that their payment would be refunded. When asked why, the club's manager said that a lot of kids "would change the complexion ... and the atmosphere of the club."1

A "Whites only" pool in 2009 should not be tolerated. The club's actions appear to be a violation of section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act.2 Whether or not any laws were violated, a "Whites only" pool should be something every American condemns.

Please join us in doing exactly that, and please email your friends and family and invite them to do the same. Your signature will also be used to call on the Department of Justice to evaluate suing the facility under federal law. It takes just a moment to do both, here:

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

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

Standing up now isn't just about making things right for these kids in Philadelphia or bringing consequences to this swim club (called the Valley Swim Club). It's about creating a climate of accountability everywhere. If we can publicly shame the Valley Swim Club and hold them accountable for this incident, it will make others think twice before engaging in what appears to be blatant discrimination.

Please join us in condemning the Valley Swim Club's behavior and calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether they violated civil rights laws. And please ask your friends and family to do the same.

Thanks and Peace,

-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani and the rest of the team
July 10th, 2009

Help support our work. is powered by YOU -- your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don't share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:


1. "'Pool Boots Kids Who Might "Change the Complexion,'" NBC Philadelphia, 07-08-09

2. "Section 1981 Summary," Employment Law Information Network

More Resources:

"60 Black Kids Booted from Philly Pool For Being Black -- Speak Out," Jill Tubman at Jack and Jill Politics, 07-08-09

VIDEO: "Please Don't Change the Complexion of our Pool," This Week in Blackness, 07-08-09

"Swim Club Accused of Discrimination," FOX 29 Philadelphia, 07-08-09

"Valley Swim Club: Day Two," Adam B at Daily Kos, 07-08-09


There is an excellent commentary about this pool incident that was recently feature at Huffington Post, called "Same Old Philly" writing about the undeniable overt racism that persists in Philadelphia. Charles D. Ellison writes that:

The real problem with the recent Valley Club swimming pool incident is that, if you're from Philadelphia, it comes as no surprise. We might wear that Ill Town badge with gritty pride, but we know what the deal is and has always been.

Then, in his concluding paragraph, he cites the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal:

"Despite the fact nearly half the town is Black, elected its 3rd Black mayor and African Americans have a significant cultural, economic and political presence in the town, the racial tension is real thick. Which is one of the reasons Philly White folks have kept Mumia Abu Jamal on death row for so long, but always come short of executing him. It's the fear of a bottled rage being unleashed. So, don't act so surprised, family. Don't get so emotional. It's Philly."


After living in Philadelphia and personally working with the movement supporting Mumia, I can say that the overt racism that surfaces among the crowd wanting Mumia dead, is well..... almost unbelievable.

Here are two key articles that I have written about this, including this photo-essay documenting the Neo-Nazis that came out to a Mumia rally:

This is a report from a demonstration where a biker-gang, apparently consisting of many retired or off-duty cops, because many of them were wearing patches that simulated Philadelphia PD badges:

This event came after several weeks of intimidation from police. This is an article written by Linn Washington:

The anti-Abu-Jamal barrage of emails and telephone calls unleashed on the Clef Club included declarations perilously close to terroristic threats. Some of the emails, including from persons identifying themselves as Philadelphia police officers, threatened a withdrawal of police services from the Clef Club. “Any self respecting police officer in Philadelphia should refuse to answer any calls for service at your establishment,” one policeman reportedly stated in an email. “Since you insist on supporting this piece of trash, I highly recommend that in the future if you find yourself a victim of crime that you DO NOT call 911 for help. Call mumia or MOVE….if you cannot support us why then should we support you?”

And, this is my article here, detailing the intimidation:

“I received nothing less than 10 or 15 death threats over the last four weeks from so-called Philadelphia police officers. I assured them that I would show up today, so they would have an opportunity to kill me. They’ve intimidated and scared folks. They’ve done what the Ku Klux Klan has always done in America: terrified Black people, poor people, immigrants and good white people” into stepping down and not confronting racism, declared Sgt. DeLacy Davis, of Black Cops Against Police Brutality.

and, in NYC:

Earlier that month, an April 15 hip hop concert and fundraiser for Mumia organized by youth in New York City was also forced to relocate when police intimidated the owner of the Remote Lounge. The Amsterdam News, the venerable Black Harlem-based paper, reported that “after receiving 16 citations, thousands of dollars in fines and allegedly malicious threats, the night club owner canceled the concert, two days before the scheduled event."....... After the event was forced to relocate, an April 15 thread on the “RANT” site was titled “NY Mumia Hip Hop Benefit Rally Gets Bitch Slapped.” One post under the name “Philadelphia Police Highway Patrol” said: “A sincere thank you to all of my NYPD brothers and sisters. You men and women are truly the best!” Several other posts continued to boast of their actions with comments like “good job guys , f--k you mumia you dirty savage,” “I’m shocked, amazed, and feel a warm glow! Great work. Outstanding!!!,” “16 citations - and guess what the hits are gonna keep coming you f--k wad,” “Does anyone sell Mumia targets, so I can keep his cause alive in spirit?”

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