“Sesame Street” has unveiled two new Black puppets as part of the show’s initiative to tackle race-related problems with its new “ABCs of Literacy” program.
The two Muppets, Wes and Elijah, were introduced in a short video created by Sesame Workshop. In the video, Elmo wants to know why Wes’s skin is brown, so his father Elijah explains the concept of melanin and how “the color of our skin is an important part of who we are.”
The father and son duos backstory reads that “Elijah is a 35-year-old meteorologist, who loves running, being outdoors, watching movies and cooking with his family. Wes, his 5-year-old son, loves going to school and playing pretend with his friends.”
Bradley Freeman Jr. will voice Wes and Chris Thomas Hayes will speak for Elijah.
“Children are not colorblind—not only do they first notice differences in race in infancy, but they also start forming their own sense of identity at a very young age,” explained Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president at “Sesame Street Workshop” on the company’s website. “‘The ABCs of Racial Literacy’ is designed to foster open, age-appropriate conversations among families and support them in building racial literacy. By encouraging these much-needed conversations through Coming Together, we can help children build a positive sense of identity and value the identities of others.”
Racial-justice programming is set to be a focus of the new season of “Sesame Street,” which will air in late 2021 as well as much of Season 53. The upcoming shows will be “rooted in extensive research and consultation with experts to develop a groundbreaking racial justice educational framework and curriculum for children.”
Resources are available online for free in English and Spanish as well, and will be distributed through a wide range of national and community providers according to Sesame Street’s website. Take a look on the following page as Elijah and Wes make their debut on the 52nd season of “Sesame Street.”