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
Elementary School
Elementary School."


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.


Classic Sesame Street - Roosevelt Franklin Africa

Uploaded by BipBippadotta on Aug 5, 2006


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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