Family files $25 million lawsuit, claiming racial bias against Sesame Place

Law firm also files class action suit, claiming theme park has shown pattern of racial discrimination

A family has filed a $25 million lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by Sesame Place Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA – A family from Baltimore has filed a $25 million lawsuit over more claims of racial discrimination by Sesame Place Philadelphia.

According to the lawsuit, both Quinton Burns and his 5-year-old daughter, Kennedi, were discriminated against while visiting the theme park on Father’s Day, June 18, as well as “all other Black guests in attendance” at a meet-and-greet event.

The law firm taking their case is also filing a class action lawsuit, claiming there’s been a pattern of discrimination.

“We were shocked and dismayed that these costume character actors besmirched the great name of the Sesame Street brand, an institution that’s as American as baseball and apple pie and who has for years battled for inclusively and equity for all people,” attorney Malcolm Ruff said.

The lawsuit comes in the wake of a separate incident that was caught on cellphone video from the park and has since gone viral. The video seemingly shows two Black girls being ignored by one of the characters, Rosita.

In the now-viral video shared by a woman on Instagram, the character, Rosita, is clearly waving and giving people high fives as she approaches the woman’s daughter and niece.

The girls reach out to her when Rosita seemingly shakes her head, hand waves “no” and walks away.

The mom called the incident “disgusting” and said she will never step foot in Sesame Place again.

In response, Sesame Place Philadelphia released a statement, saying in part: “Our brand, our park and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms. That is what Sesame Place is about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment.”

They go on to explain that “the costumes our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests,” adding that the performer portraying Rosita, “did not intentionally ignore the girls.”

But after saying they invited the family back to the park for a special meet and greet with the characters and amid a wave of criticism following the video and that initial statement, Sesame Place released a follow-up statement, saying this was not OK and that they will work to make things right.

“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience,” the statement read. “We know that it’s not okay. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize, and deliver an inclusive, equitable, and entertaining experience to our guests.”


About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.