Elmo's dad, Louie, explains racism and the power of protesting

The "Sesame Street" characters appeared in a virtual town hall event called "Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism."

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/ Source: TODAY
By Francesca Gariano

“Sesame Street” has been providing children with educational content for over 50 years, ever since the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Now, Elmo’s dad, Louie, is taking the opportunity to explain the ongoing protests calling for racial justice happening around the United States.

At the start of a CNN clip, a crowd chants “Black Lives Matter” while Elmo looks out the window and tells his dad that he doesn’t understand what’s happening. The red Muppet then asks his dad, “Why are these people together?”

“They’re gathering together to protest,” Louie says. “A protest is when people come together to show they are upset and disagree about something. They want to make others aware of the problem. Through protesting, people are able to share their feelings and work together to make things better.”

Elmo’s dad goes on to explain that sometimes protesters make signs, sharing an example of one that says “Love Justice Peace” that he reveals he will be bringing to a protest at the community center later in the day.

“They look upset,” Elmo pointed out. “Are the protesters sad?”

“They are sad and upset and they have every right to be, Elmo,” Louie says. “People are upset because racism is a huge problem in our country.”

When Elmo asks what racism is, his dad replies, “Racism is when people treat other people unfairly because of the way they look or the color of their skin.”

“The color of their skin?” Elmo asks. “Elmo doesn’t understand, daddy. Elmo has friends with different types of skin, oh, and fur, too."

“I know Elmo, but not all streets are like Sesame Street,” his dad clarifies. “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.”

In the full clip, Elmo tells his dad that he wants everyone to be treated fairly and wants to end racism, asking his dad, “What can I do, daddy? How can Elmo support his friends?”

“Well we can start by learning and talking about what is happening and take action,” Louie tells his son.

For decades, “Sesame Street” hasn’t strayed away from tough topics. The show has introduced a character who has a parent who is incarcerated, shined a light on foster care and homelessness, and even the coronavirus pandemic.

In a workshop called “Caring for Each Other,” Elmo and other members of the beloved show provide some activities and information for children and their parents. Elmo even joined TODAY’s Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager to discuss social distancing.

“Well you know the best way is to do things like this,” Elmo told Jenna after she asked how he’s sharing his love. “Talk to people and video chat and you can see them in person and you can play games and laugh and jump around and it’s almost like being together.”