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August 10, 2022

Sesame Place rolls out diversity training in response to racial discrimination allegations

The Bucks County theme park has been the subject of criticism since a video showed its Rosita mascot ignoring two Black girls who requested high-fives

Social Justice Sesame Place
Sesame Place Diversity Training Sesame Place/Facebook

Sesame Place is undertaking a racial equity assessment and implementing diversity and inclusion training for employees following racial discrimination allegations that surfaced online. In July, a video posted to Instagram showed the Bucks County theme park's Rosita character ignoring two Black girls who sought high-fives.

Sesame Place is implementing a new slate of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the wake of racial discrimination allegations that surfaced online earlier this summer.

By the end of September, all Sesame Place employees will have undergone a new training program designed to address bias, prevent discrimination and make all guests and employees feel safe and welcome. All new hires will have to complete this training, too.

The Bucks County theme park also is undergoing a racial equity assessment to review its polices and practices and identify areas that need improvement. 

"The actions we are taking will help us deliver on our promise to provide an equitable and inclusive experience for all our guests every day," Cathy Valeriano, the park's president, said Tuesday. 

The initiatives are being overseen by several civil rights experts. They include Debo Adegible, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Joseph West, of the law firm Duane Morris, and Sadiqa Reynolds, of the Louisville Urban League.

Adegible was nominated to run the U.S. Department of Justice's Division of Civil Rights by former President Barack Obama in 2014, but he was blocked by Republicans over his support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a civil rights activist who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

The theme park has been the subject of criticism since a video that showed the Rosita character walking by two Black girls who were requesting high-fives went viral in mid-July. In the aftermath, the family's attorney, prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, called for the employee wearing the costume to be fired. 

Sesame Place has issued several public apologies and vowed to implement the diversity and racial equity training that it is now rolling out. 

In the wake of the video, other families also came forward with allegation about racial discrimination at the theme park. A Maryland man sued the park, alleging that his daughter was the victim of racial discrimination during a Father's Day meet-and-greet session with several costumed characters.