“Sesame Street” has always been a diverse world, filled with numerous humans, Muppets, and monsters.  In this diverse world, the creators at Sesame Workshop have strived to help small children better understand their world filled with many trials and tribulations.

Over the years “Sesame Street” has been home to a woman who was deaf – Linda -, a blind Muppet, visits from many people with disabilities, a Muppet who is HIV positive, a Muppet who is autistic, a Muppet with Mexican heritage, and Muppets from a variety of cultures as they have endeavoured to address many of life’s topics in a manner that young viewers can understand.

The newest residents to “Sesame Street” are Elijah Walker and his five year old son Wesley – two Muppets of colour.  Mom Naomi will appear some time in the future – she is currently being developed.

Elijah and Wes are not the first Muppets of colour to appear on the show; however, Roosevelt Franklin, who appeared between 1970 and 1975, did not have a natural skin tone…he was purple.

The past year has seen a great deal in the news about racial injustice, inequality, and violence.  Sesame Workshop has chosen to use Elijah and Wesley to address the issues via conversations.

The discussions began several months ago when Elmo’s dad Louie attempts to explain to a three and a half year old Elmo about the demonstrations he sees outside his window.

Sesame Workshop also offers a number of resources to help parents explain the issues to their small children.

Bradley Freeman Jr will be the voice for young Wesley with Chris Thomas Hayes voicing Elijah. 

Speaking on his role, Freeman said, “he’s (Wes) very imaginative, he’s very fun.  He’s always trying to help his friends and make sure that they feel safe and that they feel loved and that they can feel strong in their own skin. The more I perform him, the more I get to know him.

Chris Hayes Thomas has also found a connection with his character Elijah; like Elijah, Thomas has a five year old son.

feature photo credit: “Sesame Street” Facebook page