Thursday, The US Department of Justice and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission reached a settlement with Huntingdon Valley’s now bankrupt Valley Club resolving issues of race discrimination.
Creative Steps Inc, a children’s day camp had paid the Valley Club $1950 to allow 65 campers to use Valley Club’s swimming facilities Monday afternoons through Summer 2009. During the children’s first trip to the facility on June 29th, they reported overhearing racial slurs, and rather than keep silent and deal with the humiliation, they bravely spoke up. July 3rd the Club refunded the day camp’s fees and banned the children from the pool stating that so many children would “change the complexion” of the club (ABC News).
The settlement is a happy ending for many of the campers and provided an excellent learning opportunity for both the children and the community.
Valley Club declared Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in November 2009 following the incident. The settlement agreement stipulates that the money remaining from the sale of the property for $1,460,000 following all applicable costs and fees be paid to the children, the counselors, and Creative Steps Inc.
Additionally, $65000 is being set aside from the proceeds of the sale to pay for activities planned by the children and a newly formed diversity council with Valley Club members, Creative Steps Counselors, and the children and families involved in the case.
Not only have the DOJ and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission championed on the side of equal rights, they have provided an excellent lesson for today’s minority youth: speak up when you see injustices. After all, according to South African anti-apartheid author Andre Brink, the worst crime is to do nothing, for fear that we cannot do enough – a valuable lesson for tomorrow’s leaders.