'Sesame' documentary hits the street

USA Today (Print) /

USA Today Print

"Sesame Street" didn't start with Big Bird, Bert and Ernie. It started with Joan, Jon and Jim.

Directed by Marilyn Agrelo, the documentary "Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street" (in theaters, on video-on-demand platforms Friday) which premiered at the virtual Sundance Film Festival in January offers a comprehensive look at the origins of the influential children's educational program (now heading into its 52nd season) beginning with TV executive Joan Ganz Cooney, writer and director Jon Stone and puppeteer Jim Henson in the late 1960s, how it became a cultural phenomenon, and its steadfast commitment to inspiration and inclusion.

The show "was so intentional and purposeful," producer Ellen Crafts said in a Sundance Q&A this year. "The creators of 'Sesame Street' were doing something in response to the civil rights movement and the disparity in education among children of color." The long-time program showed "how creativity and education can combine together to make change in the world."

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