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CNN and "Sesame Street" Hold Town Hall on Racism; Experts Answer Children's and Parents' Questions about Racism. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired June 6, 2020 - 10:00   ET




LAILA, SEVEN YEARS OLD, EL PASO, TEXAS: Hi, I'm Laila, and I'm hoping for a better change in people to make sure that everybody is treated equally and to make sure that everybody is kind to one another no matter what color they are.

ABBY, FOUR YEARS OLD, SESAME STREET: I'm Abby, and I want the world to be fair, and I want everyone to be included, because we're all magical.

GENEVIEVE, FOUR YEARS OLD, FREEBURG, ILLINOIS: Hi, I'm Genevieve, and I think you should be kind to all people.

GABRIELLE, SIX YEARS OLD, SESAME STREET: Hi, I'm Gabrielle. I want to be treated with kindness and respect, wherever I go.

CROWD: Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elmo doesn't understand what's happening. Why are all these people together?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they're gathering together to protest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protest? Elmo doesn't understand. What's a protest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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. They make signs like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm bringing this sign to the protest at the community center later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. They look upset. Are the protesters sad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are sad, and upset, and they have every right to be, Elmo. People are upset because racism is a huge problem in our country. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Racism? What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, racism is when people treat other people unfairly because of the way they look or the color of their skin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The color of their skin? Elmo doesn't understand, daddy. Elmo has friends with different types of skin, and fur, too -- black, brown, tan, purple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I know, Elmo. But not all streets are like Sesame Street. On Sesame Street, we all love and respect one another.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elmo wants to end racism, too. Elmo wants everybody to be treated fairly. What can Elmo do, daddy? How can Elmo support his friends?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can start by learning and talk about what is happening and take action. And you know, Elmo, we have some friends that can help.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greetings. Good to see you two.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Elmo. Hi, Louie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Mr. Van and Ms. Erica. Elmo is so glad you're here. Elmo wants to learn more about what's happening. How are people being treated unfairly?

JONES: That's a great question, Elmo. Sometimes when somebody has brown skin like me, we work just as hard as everybody else, but we get paid less money. And sometimes a police officer might think somebody is a bad guy just because that person has got dark skin, and then doesn't treat them well at all. That's not all police officers, but it does happen too much, and it's just not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's not fair Mr. Van. You know what, Elmo is going to make a sign like his daddy's to show Elmo's love and support.

HILL: That's a great idea, Elmo. I'll tell you what, while you start making that sign, we'll begin the town hall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Elmo will be back later. See you.



JONES: See you. Everybody else, please stick around. "Coming Together, Standing up to Racism, A CNN and Sesame Street Town Hall" is going to start right now.

Good morning to all the children and all the families who are watching. I'm Van Jones along with Erica Hill.

HILL: Good morning, everyone. Also joining us for this town hall is Big Bird from "Sesame Street."


HILL: Hi, Big Bird.

JONES: Hi, Big Bird. Welcome to our town hall on standing up to racism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. Count me in. We all need to stand up. There we go. That's me standing up to racism. Now, how do we stop it?

HILL: Big Bird, Big Bird, maybe come down where we can see you.

JONES: Yes, Big Bird --


JONES: -- when we say standing up, we mean actually coming together to make changes happen. We've all got to just do a better job to ensure that all this unfairness stops. Racism has been happening in our country for a very long time.


HILL: Yes, Big Bird, it has. And that's why we're coming together today. So we can learn and talk about it and take action against racism.

JONES: Already I see a positive step. Looks like we have a lot of friends who want to help. Take a look.


SOLOMON, SEVEN YEARS OLD, ATLANTA: How can we stop racism when the Civil Rights Movement was a long time ago and we're still treated unfairly?

STELLA, 12 YEARS OLD, CUMMING, GEORGIA: What can we do as kids to help racism get better in our country?

ABRAM, SIX YEARS OLD, TUCKER, GEORGIA: How can I help stop racism?

SAIGE, SIX YEARS OLD, NEW YORK: How do I help against racism and stay safe? (END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: That is definitely the big question, this morning. And I don't know if we'll get to all the answers today, but we're certainly going to try to make some progress.

JONES: And here to help us is a woman who leads one of America's major cities, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Mayor, what is your message to these kids at home who want to know how they can change things?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: I'm so proud of them, Van. That's the first thing I want to say. And my message to them is just keep being who you are. Keep loving each other. And when you see someone doing something wrong or saying something wrong, say that it's wrong. Make sure when your friends sometimes do things that they shouldn't do, that you say to them that's not right and you shouldn't do that. And say it with love, and just lead by example.

HILL: Leading by example and using our voices, so important. Mayor, it's so great to have you with us this morning for this conversation. We have a question next from Sean, who is a nine-year-old from Illinois, take a listen.


SEAN, NINE YEARS OLD, DUNLAP, ILLINOIS: If black people contributed so much to the development of this country and the world, why are black people treated so badly?


HILL: That's a great question. Mayor?

BOTTOMS: That is a great question. And it's a question that we've been asking ourselves for generations. And Sean, I don't know if we will ever have the answer to that. But what I know is, just like Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream for his four children that they would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin, we have to continue to dream and hope and work on that this country will live up to that.

So some people just don't know any better. Some people say that hurt people hurt people, and I think that's what happens when you see black and brown people being treated unfairly. They're being treated unfairly by people who sometimes are hurting themselves and they may not even know why.

JONES: Yes, very, very true. We have another question. This is from a mom who lives near Chicago.


MEGAN WENTZ, INGLESIDE, ILLINOIS: When I explained that people are treated differently because of their race, my son simply asked why. And I didn't have a good answer for him that he could understand. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Mayor, at my house we say people put other people down when they really feel bad about themselves, they're trying to make themselves feel better. But if people really love themselves, they would never need to put anybody else down. What do you think about that, Mayor?

BOTTOMS: I think you're absolutely right, Van. And that's what I tell my children all the time. I say you can't treat people the way they treat you. You have to treat people the way you want to be treated. That's what my mother has always told me. And so I try and encourage my children in any way to recognize that when someone is being mean and when they're being hateful, sometimes they're hurting inside and they don't have any other way to express it.

Now, I know that's easier said than done, and I have to remind myself of that a lot because sometimes I get impatient too. But I just keep reminding myself of that. And just sometimes I do something as simple as say a prayer for them. And I even heard my 12-year-old son Langston say to me a few days ago that he was in a situation where some kids were being mean, and he just prayed for them. So that means that sometimes, even when it doesn't seem like our kids are listening, they actually are.


HILL: They certainly are. Big Bird is with us, too, as you know, Mayor, and I think he has another question. Big Bird?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend has an important question.


ANAYA, NINE YEARS OLD, FRISCO, TEXAS: How do you respond to a classmate who questions why is Black Lives Matter necessary? All lives matter. Especially when you may be the only black student in your class, or one of very few.


HILL: Mayor, this is a question that's coming up a lot these days. How do you answer that question?

BOTTOMS: These are such great questions. And what I would say, you just have to explain to them that there is a history in this country for black people in this country that's not like any other race in this country. We are the only race of people who came to this country enslaved. And it's the reason that we had to continue to call on our history and speak our history.

And so, while we respect people of all colors and all races, that when black people are still being unfairly targeted, very publicly, it's important that we speak that as well.

HILL: Mayor, when you bring up black families being unfairly targeted, we know that families around the country are having a lot of very important, very tough conversations right now. But for parents who are raising children of color, specifically black children, the talk has long been a part of those conversations. You are a mother of four. What do you tell your children?

BOTTOMS: It's difficult. And sometimes for me, my inclination is to talk, but what I found with my children, sometimes I just simply need to listen and let them feel and let them express their emotions, because I don't have all of the answer. And I'm searching for the answers in the same way that they are. But sometimes it's just important just to listen, but I just constantly remind them of who they are and who they were created to be, and that we've come through so much more.

And Erica, I've been thinking a lot about my family's history in America. My grandmother's grandparents were slaves. And I'm thinking about what it must be taken for them to put aside their hurt and anger and humiliation of being enslaved. And the only thing I can think it could have been is they believed there was a better future for their children. And that's what we believe for our children.

JONES: That hope is carrying a lot of people through. And at least we are having the conversation and we're beginning to learn how to listen. We have got a question from Cortni who is in Indiana. Let's hear from her.


CORTNI ALVIS, JEFFERSONVILLE, INDIANA: I'm a 34-year-old black mother, I have two black sons, five and two, and an amazing black husband. My children keep asking me, mommy, why do you keep crying? I don't know what to say to them and how to explain this. I'm sad, I'm mad, I'm hurt, I'm not OK. But at the same time, I am so thankful for the many amazing protests I've seen around the world. My question, is it too early to explain to them what is going on? Will it mess up their innocent little minds?


JONES: Look, I think when something bad happens, it's OK to be sad, it's OK to be mad. It just means that we care. But Mayor, what do you think?

BOTTOMS: I don't think it's too early because you're seeing it anyway. Our children, we -- at least I can't always control the access to information that my children have. They're getting it on television. They're seeing it on their iPads. And I don't think it's too early to have that conversation. I just think we have to speak it in a context of which they will understand it. But I think it's important for them to see and feel those emotions that we are seeing and feeling, so that they will know it's OK that they are able to express themselves in the same way.

JONES: Yes, I think that's right. And talking about fairness, all kids understand fair versus not fair, so that's a good context to talk about it. Look, Mayor, thank you so much for being here. Love having you.

BOTTOMS: Thank you for having me.

HILL: We have received so many incredible questions from kids all across the country. I want to bring in some more experts to help us answer some of them. Joining us now, Dr. Nia Heard-Garris who is the minority health, equity, and inclusion chair at the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Big Bird's pal, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt from Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. Good morning.

JONES: So let's got right to some questions. We've got so many questions from parents of young kids.



AMBER DELIND, FARMINGTON, MICHIGAN: What is the best way to begin this conversation with very young children? Our daughter is nearly two.


JONES: Doctor, what's your advice?

DR. NIA HEARD-GARRIS, MINORITY HEALTH, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION CHAIR AT AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: I really think it's important to talk to kids at two or older and start to have this conversation. I think it's important to start with history and start with context. You don't want to get on a pedestal and go through the whole soliloquy about the whole entire history of our country, but you do want to start with people were brought to the United States as workers, as slaves, that were unpaid, and that was not fair. And they were treated really poorly, and those people are black people, people that have come from countries in Africa. And then you can start to build on that conversation to paint to where we are right now and how this has been something that's been going on for years and years and years, centuries, and that's why we're seeing what we're seeing now.

HILL: Our friend Rosita is also here this morning from Sesame Street, and I know she has something for us. Rosita?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's take another question.

SONYA, FOUR YEARS OLD, WASHINGTON D.C.: Why do people have different skin colors?

SANJAY FOUR YEARS OLD, WASHINGTON D.C.: Why do people have different skin colors?


HILL: Dr. Heard-Garris, why do people have different skin colors?

HEARD-GARRIS: That's a great question. Thanks for posting it.

So people have different colors because of a pigment in our skin called melanin. And that melanin, depending how much or how little you have, changes the color of your skin. So people that lived in hotter areas near the equator have more melanin, so have more on the pigment. And as people get away from the equator they have less because they need special vitamins in their body called Vitamin D, and sunlight really, really helps that Vitamin D get active and ready to go. So people have different skin colors because of the amounts of melanin that they have in their skin.

JONES: These kids have amazing questions.

Dr. Betancourt, we have got one for you. Christina, who is a mom from Rhode Island, she says she has got a five-year-old daughter if people are walking in the streets because of the signs, is it because they're battling the germs that are making people sick? So kids are trying to understand this stuff. How can we -- they want to know, are these people trying to be strong and safe from the virus that disrupted their lives? How are grownups and kids supposed to deal with all this at the same time, Dr. Betancourt?

JEANETTE BETANCOURT, SENIOR V.P., U.S. SOCIAL IMPACT AT SESAME WORKSHOP: It's so hard now with parenting. First, we had to describe a pandemic, and now we have to talk about racism. So now is the opportunity to really talk and have honest, simple, but yet realistic conversations. So it is talking about that people are being treated unfairly and even hurt. And it is because of the consequence of the skin color.

But what you find is that there are now people standing up and saying, we have to do better, and that no one should be treated poorly because of who they are, and that you're standing together in a way that you're tackling racism, but in a way that is indicating that we learn racism, and we now have to avoid that. Most of all is the idea that children and families are taking action together. And this is what we're seeing today.

HILL: I want to check in now with Abby Cadabby. Abby?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our friend has a question.

KYLE, SIX YEARS OLD, GLEN OAKS, NEW YORK: I want to be a neurosurgeon when I grow up. Can I operate on racist brains to change them?


HILL: Dr. Heard-Garris, I want to tell Kyle yes.


HILL: But you are the medical professional here, so I'm going to leave that to you. HEARD-GARRIS: Absolutely. As doctors, and I'm so excited you're going

to join us, you operate and you care for everyone, no matter their attitudes. But with that being said, we are working really, really, really hard to change people's hearts and minds and policies so that later on you don't have to operate on racist people's brains. You can operate knowing that everyone is behind you and rooting for you.

HILL: Dr. Betancourt, what is about a message, a final message for kids and parents about having these hard conversations? We often say in our house, the hard conversations are the most important ones.

BETANCOURT: They are. The hard conversations, and we know we need to start early. We know that young children, even in infancy, start to recognize the different between race and identity. So this is an opportunity to talk about those similarities and differences in your everyday moments, to take advantage of the diversity that surrounds you, but to have these conversations early on in a way that sets a foundation, but it lasts for a lifetime of awareness.


And it's also the fact that children see and learn from what they see, so that our actions are more important than our words.

JONES: Well said. Doctors, thank you so much for your very, very great advice. We appreciate you.

HILL: Coming up, we're going to talk about inclusion and empathy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are some big words. What do they mean?

JONES: We're going to find out. But first, let's hear from Big Bird's Sesame Street neighbors, Gordon and Maria. They're going to help us answer this important question.


XAVIER EIGHT YEARS OLD, MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY: Nana used to protest in the 1960s. Why do we have to do this again and again and again?

GORDON, SESAME STREET: That's a good and important question. Like your nana, I remember the Civil Rights marches back in the 60s, and here we are again, marching and speaking up for change just like before.

MARIA, SESAME STREET: Unfortunately, this change has taken a very long time. It's frustrating and unbelievable to me that we're still fighting the very same fight and dealing with the very same issues that we dealt with on Sesame Street in 1969. It breaks my heart. No child or grown up should have to deal with being treated unfairly. We've got to change the course of history now.

GORDON: That's why people are again protesting and marching and speaking up, so that your nana, you, and everyone else, never has to experience racism again. I've been so inspired by seeing the protests and heartfelt messages that people, young and old, have been sharing. It gives me hope that this time change will happen. MARIA: I have hope, too, mucha esperanza, that if we keep on marching

and if we keep on speaking up, people will be respected equally. Stay safe.

GORDON: And make your voices heard.




CLAIRE-ELIZABETH, NINE YEARS OLD, BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA: Hello, I'm Claire-Elizabeth. My hope is for a better world where we are truly valued, celebrated, and loved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elmo is Elmo. Elmo wants to live in a world where the word "racism" is replaced with the word "love."

AALIYAH, EIGHT YEARS OLD, OCEANSIDE, NEW YORK: Teach us how to love and not to hate.

AARON, SIX YEARS OLD, OCEANSIDE, NEW YORK: Because we are all the same.


HILL: Welcome back to "Coming Together, Standing up to Racism, A CNN and Sesame Street Town Hall." And joining us now is Abby Cadabby. Hi, Abby.


JONES: Hey, how are you? How are you doing, Abby?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like a lot of people, I'm very upset. I'm upset at how my friends across the country are being treated. And I know it's not right.

HILL: You do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes, because one time, well, my friend Big Bird, he was bullied by some other birds because of his yellow feathers and because of how big he is. And well, it wasn't kind, and it wasn't fair. And well, I wouldn't want to be treated like that. So I understand how Big Bird was upset.

JONES: You know, you're a really good friend, Abby, and you are showing a lot of empathy.


JONES: Yes, "empathy" is a big word for showing that you understand how somebody else is feeling in your heart.

HILL: And that also means, Abby, that you care, that you care about how other people feel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do care. I care a lot.

HILL: So what did you do to support Big Bird?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I just told him that the yellow color of his feathers and his big size is what makes him so special, and that he should be proud of who he is, and that those other birds were wrong. And then, well, I went and told a grown up what was happening.

JONES: That's great, Abby, because not only did you show empathy by understanding what he was going through, you also took action, you took a stand. And that's what we need people to do right now around racism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, well, I stood up for Big Bird, and I will stand up for all of my family and friends across the country, because everyone should be treated fairly and with respect, Erica and Van.

JONES: Look, that's a great rule to live by, Abby.

HILL: And standing up and acting are the steps that we all need to take to end racism toward the black community and to make this world a better place for everyone to live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, and even more magical. OK, I'm sending everyone some fairy hugs, OK. Twinkle out.

HILL: We could all use those fairy hugs, Abby.

Here to talk a little bit more about the empathy and the with us on our friends, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria," and Dr. Jennifer Harvey, author of "Raising White Kids, Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America." Good morning.

JONES: Dr. Tatum, let's start with a question we've gotten from a lot of parents.


ALLIAH LIVINGSTONE, MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY: As parents, how do we achieve the appropriate balance between educating our children about racism and protecting them against it, while also preserving their innocence and not overburdening them with additional anxiety?


JONES: I think that's the big, big question. It's so tough. Can you talk to us about that balance?

BEVERLY DANIEL TATUM, PH.D., PSYCHOLOGIST: Sure. One of the things that we can say is that we, as parents, are going to take care of them and ensure their safety. But it is also the case that even very young children might have some experiences with name calling or someone saying you can't play. They might have learned something about racism, even if they're only three or four years old. And so talking about what's fair and unfair and how you stand up for yourself and other people is something that even young children can learn about, because even young children understand what it means to be fair and what it means to be unfair towards someone.


HILL: Our next question is about a really important factor in all of this, and that's white privilege.


CHRISTA LEWIS, WINDHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE: What are some resources we can both use to further acknowledge our white privilege and help raise up the black community?


HILL: So Dr. Harvey, before we answer Christa's question, I just wonder if we could address what white privilege is, because I think it's more subtle than many realize. How do you define it? How do you explain it to people?

JENNIFER HARVEY, PH.D., AUTHOR, "RAISING WHITE KIDS, BRINGING UP CHILDREN IN A RACIALLY UNJUST AMERICA": So, white privilege is the situation where racism, as it impacts black communities and Latinx communities, Asian-American and Native-American communities, white communities are not negatively impacted by racism, and sometimes we get unjust benefits and easier access to things just because we're white, not because we deserve it.

HILL: So to answer Christa's question, then, she was asking what is the right approach. What is the right approach?

HARVEY: One of the most important things that we need to acknowledge right now is that the most dangerous kind of white privilege is to think that we can sit this justice struggle out. This struggle won't be over in two weeks, and as communities of color and especially African-American communities are leading the struggle for racial justice right now, white Americans need to get all in with them, both interrupting racism in our families, even if it's uncomfortable or causes conflict, but also supporting racial justice organizations in our neighborhoods, in our cities where black folks are leading and standing up against racism right now.

HILL: We all have a role to play, and it's so important to talk about that. Jennifer, also a mom, has a question for us. She's from New Jersey.


JENNIFER NOVEMBER, CHESTERFIELD, NEW JERSEY: I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how to tackle the subject with my three-year-old boy-girl twins. I used to think that raising color-blind kids was the way to go, but now I know that's not enough. What is an age appropriate way to discuss being anti-racist, and not just seeing people as being the same regardless of the color of their skin?


HILL: Dr. Tatum, there was certainly a time where people were taught, we don't see color, which is basically you don't see a person in front of you. I know that's changed. How do you answer her question?

TATUM: Well, the good news is, there are a lot of books that you can sit and read with a three-years-old or a four-year-old that talk about skin color differences, physical differences, and that celebrate those differences. So that's a good place to start, to be able to just talk in a very warm and inclusive way about the differences that exist among different people.

But if a parent wants to talk about something like police violence or a really tough topic for a small child, there are even books you can find about that. And a great source for those books is They have lists of age-appropriate books that you can find that will help parents introduce sensitive subjects in an age-appropriate way.

JONES: That's great to know about. And I think Elmo has something for us now. Elmo?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to a friend who has a question.

SANIYA, NINE YEARS OLD, YONKERS, NEW YORK: What is a good way to deal with racism when I encounter it? If a person calls me a name or makes me feel like I'm lesser than they are because of the color of my skin, what do I do?


JONES: Well, Saniya, first of all, you're awesome, and don't let anybody get you down. The main thing is you know how great you are, nobody can take that away from you. But Dr. Harvey, what's an effective response for a child like that?

HARVEY: So I think all of our children need to learn and practice with their families how they want to interrupt racism if they're a target of it because they're a kid of color, or white kids need to practice with their families how they're going to interrupt it if they see children of color on their playground or in their classroom being bullied because of racism. And I want to tell kids, find an adult, an adult that you trust and who you know loves you to help you name it as racism and talk about what's going on and help all of the kids in that space learn we can all be anti-racist together.

HILL: We have this question from Eric in Texas, who wrote in, "One thing that's overshadowed is the racism against Asian-Americans, especially those of east Asian descent." Dr. Tatum, how do we broaden this conversation out? This is a big, big country with hundreds of millions of people in it, and there are so many races and ethnicities and communities to be celebrated. How do we broaden the conversation? TATUM: I think it is important to broaden the conversation. And we

certainly know, particularly during this time of the pandemic that there has been more racism being directed toward members of the Asian- American community.


But certainly, we know that children will respond to physical differences sometimes with confusion or teasing. And that is something that parents can talk about too. I'm going to, again, references resources like children's books that talk about the diversity, not just of skin color, but eye shape, hair texture, that include the whole rainbow of human diversity. And that's a good place for parents to start affirming.

And, of course, to the extent there are friendships with adults and their children include lots of different people, it's much easier to demonstrate by your action that you're including others. But if you don't have those folks in your community, you certainly can rely on books and videos to start the conversation.

HILL: Dr. Harvey, we come back to that a lot, right, how loudly our actions speak, especially when it comes to our children.

HARVEY: That's right. Our children learn anti-racism and racial justice from us. If they watch us look away when we encounter racism, that's what they learn the right thing to do is. So we need to model for them and partner with them as we work in our local communities.

JONES: Speaking of model parents, Elmo's daddy has something to say. Take it away Louie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take another question.

EVA AND CAROLYN, EIGHT YEARS OLD, DECATUR, GEORGIA: Should we take to our black or brown friends about racism?

EVA AND CAROLYN, EIGHT YEARS OLD, DECATUR, GEORGIA: Or should we wait and let them bring it up?


JONES: That's a great question. Dr. Tatum, how do you think of that?

TATUM: I think given that all that's happening in the news, that it would be OK for a friend to say to another friend, I've been watching the news or I've been hearing about this stuff that's going on. It upsets me. I'm wondering how you feel about it? But in that conversation what you're letting your friend know is that you're concerned. You're not just saying, how do you feel? But I'm concerned about this, I feel upset about it, I'd like to talk about it. Is that OK with you?

JONES: Dr. Harvey? HARVEY: Yes, I agree with that. I think many times white families,

white kids think we're not supposed to bring up racism. But we do care about this. If we do, we need to bring it up, engage it, challenge it, and make connections with others.

JONES: Listen, Doctors, I just want to thank you so much for being here. Appreciate you.

TATUM: Thanks for having me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, boy. Children and families are asking a lot of really great questions.

HILL: Yes, they are. And important ones too, Big Bird.

JONES: In addition to asking questions, there are also some amazing children that are using their voices to make their messages heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right, Van, like my friend Keedron. He wrote a powerful song with his mom Jeanetta. Let's take a listen.


KEEDRON BRYANT, 12 YEARS OLD: I'm a young black man doing all that I can to stand. Oh, but when I look around and I see what's being done to my kind every day, I'm being hunted as prey.


JONES: Joining us is the singer of that song, Keedron Bryant. Hi, Keedron.

BRYANT: Hi, how are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're doing great. Thank you and your mom for sharing your song, Keedron.

BRYANT: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you feel when you sang it?

BRYANT: I felt it's kind of sad to sing those lyrics, because it's kind of unfair that, like the song said, we can't go out and enjoy life. So I feel that we can enjoy life just like everybody else can.

HILL: Keedron, you've touched a lot of hearts, I think you've made a lot of people think with that powerful message. You're 12 years old, your video has had more than 3 million views. It's been shared by President Obama, by LeBron James. How does it feel knowing that your voice has impacted so many people?

BRYANT: It's -- I never knew it was going to go viral. It's very -- it's a very good feeling to feel that this is my dream and this is what God has called me to do. So I feel really excited and happy for that.

JONES: Well, your words are really powerful. You captured the moment.

BRYANT: Thank you.

JONES: You really did. And you just seem to be speaking for so many people. What was in your heart then and now? What do you want to see changed?

BRYANT: I feel that we could all change the world. I want to see change in the racial profiling, we could all be equal, we could all go out and enjoy life and not be afraid that something is going to happen to us. So I feel that we could all live life.


JONES: Keedron, you are such a good reminder of the power of young folks, young voices. And we're counting on your generation to work with us and make things better. What message do you have for young people who might be having a tough time right now? What do you want to say to the young people?

BRYANT: I want to say to them, don't be afraid to speak up and don't let your anger get in control of your actions, because that can lead to serious problems, and we do not want to see that. So just keep your head up and keep the faith.

HILL: Keedron we really --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, Keedron, I just wanted to say something. I just wanted to say to Keedron what an inspiration you are, and I'm so grateful to be able to hear your song and your voice.

BRYANT: Thank you, Big Bird.

HILL: Keedron, thank you for sharing your gift with us. Thank you for joining us this morning. And thank you for your important message.

BRYANT: Thank you so much.

JONES: Coming up we're going to answer more of your questions.

HILL: And talk about how we can do better and be better moving forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But first, let's listen to some more of the powerful words in Keedron's song, "I Just Want to Live."


BRYANT: My people don't want no trouble. We've had enough. I just want to live. God protect me. I just want to live. I just want to live.



[10:45:27] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Big Bird, and I want to live in a world where people don't judge people by the color of their skin, fur, or feathers.

AIDEN, FIVE YEARS OLD, COOKSVILLE, MARYLAND: Hi, I'm Aidan. I want everyone to listen and to love each other.

ROSITA, FIVE YEARS OLD, SESAME STREET: Hola, I'm Rosita, and I want to live in a world where we celebrate what makes us different.

ANDERS, 13 YEARS OLD, SCARSDALE, NEW YORK: Hi, I'm Anders, and I love where I live because I'm not discriminated against for my race or my religion. And I hope that in many places around the U.S. and even around the world that people are accepted for who they are.


JONES: Welcome back to our town hall special, "Coming Together Standing Up to Racism." I just love all these questions, all the messages. We got incredible stuff from all around the country. Speaking of coming together, who can use a hug from their best friend right now? Who could use one?

HILL: Me. Me, Van, me.


JONES: Me too. Erica, you remember that amazing hug between those little guys, Maxwell and Finnegan?

HILL: Yes.

JONES: We checked in on them. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your name?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was Maxwell's last day of school at his first daycare. We were on the same sidewalk, they saw each other and then just started running towards each other. It was just a great moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like they could really complement each other as well. Finnegan is a little bit of a daredevil, but Maxwell is more like the voice of reason. They challenge each other. They have a really special friendship.



HILL: Who doesn't need a dose of that this morning and every morning?

JONES: Every morning.

HILL: I love that. I love those boys.

As you said, Van, we've had so many incredible questions and comments sent to us. Our next guest is Charles Ramsey. He's the former police chief in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Good morning. Great to have you here.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: It is so good to be here and see all of you.

JONES: Welcome, chief. We've had so many tough questions for police officers right now. Take a listen to what some of the young people are thinking about.


LILY, SEVEN YEARS OLD, BALDWIN, NEW YORK: Is it safe for me to go outside? And will a police officer harm me because of the color of my skin?

MARVIN, SEVEN YEARS OLD, PRINCETON JUNCTION, NEW JERSEY: If a police officer is supposed to serve and protect people, why would he hurt me because of the color of my skin?


JONES: Yes, we got so many questions like that, and it's so heartbreaking. I'm from a law enforcement family, and we're taught police officers are supposed to protect us. But a lot of kids of color, they are afraid right now. Chief, you're a cop. What's your message to the young people?

RAMSEY: First of all, it hurts me to even have to answer questions like that, because police officers are there to help. And no one should ever judge anyone by the color of their skin. I have a granddaughter, name is Natalie, she's three-and-a-half, and I want to make sure that she grows up in a world where she feels safe and secure no matter what.

But the reality is, people are out there demonstrating right now because there are a few police officers that don't always act the way we'd like them to act. And they don't need to be police officers. Most officers do a good job every single day and will always be there to help you. But we have to make sure that regardless of the circumstances, police officers always do their job the right way, and no one, especially police officers, but no one should ever treat anyone differently based on the color of their skin. Those young people, be proud of who you are. Your skin color is

absolutely beautiful, just like all the other skin colors we have in this world. God created us all, and he created us all to be equal.

HILL: Chief, we also have this question from Marissa. She's from Vermont. She sent this in.


MARISSA, SEVEN YEARS OLD, MONTPELIER, VERMONT: I thought the police were supposed to keep us safe. I thought we were supposed to call them when we needed help. Now I'm wondering, who do we call when the police are being unsafe?


HILL: That's a great question. As you point out, it's not all officers, as we know, but if you do see a police officer doing something wrong, how do you handle that?

RAMSEY: Well, first, you let a grown up know what's going on so they can take action, because we don't need police officers doing things like some that you've seen on some of the videos that have been shown recently that led to a lot of the protests that are out there taking place right now.


But police officers are there to help. And if you need help, don't be afraid to call for help. But again if you see something that's not right, or somebody says something to you or treats you differently, don't hesitate to let a grown up know so people like me, that used to be a police chief, can take action and do what we need to do to make sure that we only have police officers that are there to serve and protect people, not to harm people.

JONES: Listen, we've got one more question from Paityn in Louisiana.


PAITYN, NINE YEARS OLD, YOUNGSVILLE, LOUISIANA: Do you think George Floyd's death can change the way that people behave when they encounter black men like my dad?


JONES: Chief, what do you think?

RAMSEY: That's an excellent question, and I certainly hope so. We don't often remember that it doesn't take much to really change the world. I think about what happened back in the 1950s, where there was a black woman on a bus one day who refused to give up her seat to a white man. That led to the Civil Rights Movement, and it was because of the Civil Rights Movement that one day I grew up to be police chief in Washington D.C., our nation's capital, and later police commissioner here in the great city of Philadelphia. So one thing can change the world. And I hope that the death of Mr.

Floyd, which should never have happened, but I would hope that his death is not in vain and does lead to change, because we all need to recognize that things are not fair like they should be in our country, but that doesn't mean that we have to stay there. It is not preordained. We can change the world. And you young people are going to be the ones to do it. You're going to be the ones to do it. So stay involved, stay active, pay attention to what's going on, and don't be afraid to get out there and voice your opinion. This is the United States of America. You have a constitutional right to protest and say when things aren't right.

JONES: Yes. Listen, I actually believe this is a moment for change. And hopefully that change comes from stuff like this, from what we're doing today.

RAMSEY: It will. I believe that, Van. So thank you all for doing this. Thank Big Bird and Elmo. I have to admit, I like Elmo. I saw that Elmo is three-and-a-half. That's the same age as my granddaughter, by the way, so they have something in common.


HILL: That they do. And they both have a big fan in you, so that's another something they have in common. Always good to talk to you, thanks for being with us this morning.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

HILL: We do still have time for one more question, and Gabrielle is going to do the honors for us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's answer another question.

A'DREAM, 16 YEARS OLD, LOS ANGELES: My name, A'Dream, represents MLK's Civil Rights agenda. I understand that I am my ancestors wildest dreams, but it seems that the only way change will come is if the revolution is televised. So after the cameras are gone, will the revolution keep going? I know that I can do more, but how do I do more?


JONES: That's a great question. Sometimes this love revolution is on TV. Most of the time it's not. What a revolution is, it's a change of heart, it's a change of how we look at each other, how we treat each other, who we're willing to bring into our circle and who we're willing to love on. And so what I will say to you is this movement will go on as long as we keep expanding who we care about. Let's keep caring about more and more kids, reaching out to more and more kids, and then if it's on TV, if it's not on TV, it's still going to matter.

HILL: I love the way you put that, too, expanding it and expanding our hearts. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I want to thank all the children and families

that asked questions. I learned a lot.

HILL: I did, too, Big Bird. And we'd also like to thank our experts for their thoughtful words around racism.

JONES: Absolutely. And listen, continue to educate and talk to your kids about racism, model ways to be anti-racist. And to the kids out there, don't be afraid to ask your family questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Van, Ms. Erica, Big Bird, look Elmo finished his sign.

HILL: Oh, Elmo, that's great.

JONES: Beautiful sign. Really, really cool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody. Elmo drew a picture of what Elmo wants. All of us loving each other. Oh, yes, Elmo is going to bring the sign to the community center to show Elmo's support, because Elmo can do better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can do better.

HILL: I can do better.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can do better.


We can do better, we must do better, we will do better.


JONES: Let's come together.

MARIA: All of us, no matter the color of our skin.

GORDON: And stand together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To make this a kind and safe place to live for everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us all in doing better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And stopping racism.

JONES: Thank you for joining us. Peace and love for one another. Bye, everybody.

HILL: Bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye-bye everybody. Elmo loves you.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. A big thanks to "Sesame Street" for that amazing hour. And now we want parents to know that we are going to return to our normal grownup news broadcast right now in case you need to move the little ones to another room.

Right now around the world, people are taking to the streets to protest racial injustice and the death of George Floyd, from London to Mexico City to Sydney, Australia.