Sesame Street has set a date for its star-studded 50th anniversary TV special. On Thursday, ABC announced that Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days, a two-hour special chronicling the history of the show that spans five decades, will be premiering next month. Produced by TIME Studios, the special is scheduled to air on Monday, April 26 at 8 p.m. ET.
“For over 50 years, Sesame Street has addressed and explained diversity, equity, and inclusion around the globe by using the universal tools of music, empathy and celebrity. Through its iconic shows and targeted outreach, Sesame Workshop has found ways to make these daunting and seemingly impossible conversations accessible to people of all ages, usually delivered with the help of a furry friend,” the official announcement reads.
Sesame Workshop added: “Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days reflects upon the efforts that have earned Sesame Street unparalleled respect and qualification around the globe, including addressing their responsibility to social issues that have historically been seen as taboo such as racial injustice.”
Several major celebrities will be present with Big Bird and his pals to help celebrate 50 years of Sesame Street. Confirmed for the event are W. Kamau Bell, Gloria Estefan, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Jackson, John Legend, Lucy Liu, Olivia Munn, Questlove, Chrissy Teigen, and Usher. Additional participating celebrities will be announced at a later date.
Whoopi Goldberg, one of the celebrities appearing at the event, has been a frequent visitor to Sesame Street over the years. Announcing the special on The View, Goldberg also spoke about how thrilled she is to see the series reach its 50th anniversary.
— The View (@TheView) March 25, 2021
“There’s just something really amazing about Sesame Street that I always felt, because my mother taught me that children need to be spoken to like people, and that’s what Sesame Street does,” Goldberg says. “I love that, and I love all the teaching that they’ve done. We’ve introduced characters together. It just made me happy.”
Also with the special comes the introduction of a Black family of Muppets, consisting of the father Elijah Walker and his young son Wes. The characters are a part of the show’s new “Coming Together” initiative, the goal of which is to teach children about race and inequality. This comes after the Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism hour-long special that aired on CNN last year, with Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and other characters addressing recent racial tensions in the United States.
A video of Elijah and Wes can be watched now on YouTube, if you want to go ahead and meet these new characters now. In the clip, Elmo walks up to the duo in a park, and in the innocently curious way a small child might pose the question, the red Muppet asks why his red fur isn’t the same color as Wes’s skin. Elijah explains to Elmo the scientific reason behind it in a rather simple way.
“Well, melanin is something that we each have inside our bodies that make the outside of our bodies the skin color that it is. It also gives us our eye and our hair color,” Elijah says. “The color of our skin is an important part of who we are, but we should all know that it’s okay we all look different in so very many ways.
Elijah then adds: “Things on the outside, like our skin color, our hair texture, our noses, our mouths and eyes, make us who we are. Many people call this race. But, even though we look different, we’re all part of the human race.”
Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days will air on Monday, April 26 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Episodes of Sesame Street are also streaming on HBO Max. You can read more about the show’s “Coming Together” initiative at the official website for the Sesame Workshop.
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