Sesame Street has a long history of bringing important issues and powerful messages to children and families within their show. On Saturday morning, the beloved puppets and CNN teamed up for an educational special titled Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism to talk to kids and adults about racism and the ongoing nationwide protests amid George Floyd's death.
The hour-long special was moderated by Big Bird, CNN political commentator Van Jones and national correspondent Erica Hill. Coming Together began with Elmo and his dad, Louie, having a deep conversation about what racism is and what the protests mean.
"Daddy, Elmo doesn't understand. What's happening, why are these people together," he asked, as his father told him they are protesting. "Protest? Elmo doesn't understand. What's a protest?"
As he explained what that means, Elmo asked if the people were sad, to which Louie replied, "Yes."
"They are sad and upset, and they have every right to be Elmo. People are upset because racism is a huge problem in our country," Louie continued, before explaining what racism means. "Racism is when people treat other people unfairly because of the way they look or the color of their skin. Not all streets are like Sesame Street. On Sesame Street, we all love and respect one another. Across the country, people of color, especially in the black community, are being treated unfairly because of how they look, their culture, race and who they are."
"What we are seeing is people saying, 'Enough is enough.' They want to end racism," Louie added.
“Not all streets are like Sesame Street. … What we are seeing is people saying 'enough is enough.' They want to end racism.”@Elmo’s dad Louie explains why people are protesting across the US. https://t.co/icV04F4FNW #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/1efrMAzZ8V— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
The special also featured Sesame Street's Abby Cadabby sharing a story about how Bird Bird has been a victim of prejudice and how he gets teased for his size and color. Abby also learned what empathy means and the importance of taking a stand to help her family and friends.
"Everyone should be treated fairly and with respect," Abby said.
.@abbycadabbysst when she saw @BigBird bullied because of his color and his size: “It wasn’t kind, and it wasn’t fair... I wouldn't want to be treated like that. So I understand how Big Bird was upset.”— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
“You are showing a lot of empathy,” says @VanJones68. #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/mkL5ltCg21
There were also inspiring moments and segments, with 12-year-old Keedron Bryant talking about his viral song, "I Just Want To Live."
"I feel that we could all change the world," Bryant told Big Bird, Jones and Hill. "We could all go out and enjoy life and not be afraid that something is going to happen to us."
A video of 12-year-old Keedron Bryant singing a song he wrote, “I Just Want To Live,” was widely shared.— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
“I feel that we could all change the world. … We could all go out and enjoy life and not be afraid that something is going to happen to us,” he says. #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/eogiLPOEqH
The two toddlers, Maxwell and Finnegan, who went viral after video of them running to hug each other also reunited. Their parents touched on their "special friendship," with Maxwell telling his friend "I love you" as he signed off.
Two toddlers who ran toward each another and hugged in a viral video have a “special friendship,” their parents say.— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
In a recent video call, one of the boys signed off by saying “I love you!” to his best friend. https://t.co/glwEzzV8Pf #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/fUvXqA5AbD
While other kids asked important questions about what they should do when they face discrimination or why things haven't changed in years, the overall message that was shared was: We can do better. We must do better. We will do better.
"Let’s come together, all of us, no matter the color of our skin, and stand together to make this a kind and safe place to live for everyone," Big Bird, Elmo, Jones, Hill, Sesame Street's Gordon and Maria and more said as they concluded the program.
“Let’s come together, all of us, no matter the color of our skin, and stand together to make this a kind and safe place to live for everyone.” @BigBIrd, @Elmo and others in the #CNNSesameStreet town hall encourage everyone to "do better." https://t.co/icV04F4FNW pic.twitter.com/YF1DLZUhQj— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
Many people watching the special, couldn't help but applaud Sesame Street and CNN on social media for delivering a meaningful message.
John Stamos posted a photo of himself with his son, Billy, watching the program. "My kid and I watching #comingtogetherstandinguptoracism - Great stuff @cnn @sesamestreet ! Our family thanks you!" he wrote.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson also watched and tweeted: "Proof that of words of wisdom and comforting leadership CAN come from slightly orange beings. I love @sesamestreet for stepping up and offering us a tool to talk about racism with our children. Warning: Adults may learn something too."
Proof that of words of wisdom and comforting leadership CAN come from slightly orange beings. I love @sesamestreet for stepping up and offering us a tool to talk about racism with our children. Warning: Adults may learn something too. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤎🤍 https://t.co/blnjyxwrWN— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) June 6, 2020
This week, Kourtney Kardashian, Kristen Bell and Ashton Kutcher, amid other celebrity parents, vowed to break the cycle of racism. The stars have shared that they are having conversations with their children about what's happening all across the country.
See how more celebrities have pushed to talk to their families about standing up to racism in the video above.