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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Remembering Sesame Street's Roosevelt Franklin

Written by Azizi Powell

The oldest memory that I have of Sesame Street is watching that children's television show in 1970 along with twin toddlers who I took care of. Since Sesame Street first aired in November 1969, that makes me part of the earliest audience for that show. And while I admit to having a fondness for Cookie Monster along with my daughter who watched the show in the mid 1970s, the character who I liked the most was Roosevelt Franklin. Years after those video clips stopped airing on Sesame Street, I can still remember the words & tune to the theme song that you heard before the actual clip started (Roosevelt Franklin was such a cool teacher that they named the school after him).

"Hail to thee our alma mater
Roosevelt Franklin
High!
Elementary School
Elementary School."

-snip-

This post has no heavy duty message. I just felt like sharing the following two videos of Roosevelt and his "crew":

Sesame Street - Roosevelt Franklin's picture story



Uploaded by jonnytbirdzback on Mar 7, 2008
The story of a big ol' bone in the doghouse.

-snip-

Classic Sesame Street - Roosevelt Franklin Africa



Uploaded by BipBippadotta on Aug 5, 2006

-snip-

My thanks to the talented writers and puppeteers for the good times (though admittedly these classroom scenes don't convey all that positive an image of African American schools). Yet I really like these two videos. As a storyteller, I love the call & response pattern of the "big ole bone in the dog house" story and I wonder if it's an adaptation of a traditional African American or African story. And I like how that story left the students (and viewers/listeners) with the message about how they should leave things alone that are not their own. As Roosevelt said "This is another golden rule from the Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School".

Also, I give points to that second video's goal of sharing some positive information about the African continent.

I really wish Roosevelt Franklin was back on Sesame Street, although I'd prefer a classroom of characters who acted much less rambunctions but still retained their heart warming characteristics.

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