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When Mississippi Banned Sesame Street

Learn about the curious incident: when Mississippi banned Sesame Street. Explore the history behind this unique decision.

Author:Celeste Pearl
Reviewer:Kelly Hayes
Mar 25, 2024
When Mississippi banned Sesame Street? In April 1970, the State Commission for Educational Television in Mississippi met to talk about Big Bird and Cookie Monster. The first shows of "Sesame Street" aired on public TV in November of the previous year. They were cartoons about the letter O, counting games with ice cream cones, and Ernie singing in the shower.
One member of the all-white committee said Mississippi was "not yet ready for it" because it showed Black and White kids playing together. By a vote of 3-2, the committee said that "Sesame Street" could not be shown on the state-run ETV network.

When Mississippi Banned Sesame Street?

Sesame Street has changed the lives of millions of kids since its first season in the fall of 1969. The show uses fun characters like Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch, along with a program that was approved by child psychologists and other experts at Sesame Workshop, to teach kids about life and give them tools for learning as they get older.
The show's method and goal statement are almost never questioned, not even by Oscar. But in early 1970, a group of school advisors in Mississippi agreed that Sesame Street was too controversial to be shown on TV.
The Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (formerly the State Commission for Educational Television) held its first monthly meeting in January 1970 after being on the air for a few months.
The board was set up by the state government and Governor John Bell Williams to review ETV programs. Jackson, Mississippi, banker James McKay was in charge of the group of five teachers and private residents, which included a director and a teacher.
Allen Thompson, his father-in-law, had just quit as mayor of Jackson after 20 years, which made McKay's appearance stand out. During his time in office, Thompson fought against city integration.
He also started Freedom of Choice in the United States (FOCUS), a political group that pushed for "freedom of choice" in public schools, which was a code word for segregation. Mississippi was the most controversial state when it came to civil rights, but it still had a lot of problems with race strife in the 1960s. There was systemic racism.
Sesame Street was made by Joan Ganz Cooney, who is now the executive head of the Children's Television Workshop and used to be a writer and TV producer. Gordon and Susan were played by black actors Matt Robinson and Loretta Long, and white actors Jada Rowland and Bob McGrath were also in the show. There were kids of different races on Sesame Street.
Sesame Street
Sesame Street

The Show Was Banned In Mississippi In 1970

The majority of people who watched Sesame Street gave it high marks and good reviews. A lot of people liked the show because it had a diverse cast, taught kids things, and had fun with Jim Henson's robot characters. But Mississippi TV stations were not allowed to show Sesame Street in 1970, only a few months into the first season.
The show's diversity caused the Mississippi State Commission for Educational Television to decide to take it off the air, as reported by The New York Times on May 2, 1970. A member of the committee said at the time, "Some of them were very against showing the series because it has a cast of children who are very mixed." "The people on the commission mostly thought Mississippi wasn't ready for it yet."
The moment Cooney heard the news, he put out a statement calling the commission's ruling "a tragedy for both the white and black children of Mississippi." Sesame Street had become very famous across the country by this point, with numbers that were through the roof. When the news started to talk about the choice and Clooney's anger, the state felt pushed to change its mind. Mississippi brought back Sesame Street 22 days after it was banned.

The Mississippi Controversy Unfolds

A lot of people were shocked when Mississippi banned Sesame Street since the show is so famous across the country. In the early 1970s, the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (MAETV) chose not to show Sesame Street, which led to the debate. People were surprised by the choice, mainly since Sesame Street was meant to be an educational show that would help kids, especially those from poor areas, learn essential skills.

A Clash Of Ideologies

It wasn't just a matter of programming that Sesame Street was banned in Mississippi. It showed how different ideas can meet. Some people in the state didn't like what was on the show, which was at the heart of the problem. Some people said that the show's diverse cast and liberal views were not in line with Mississippi's strict society at the time.

Fear Of The Unknown

Mississippi banned Sesame Street because people were afraid of what they didn't know and what would change. At a time when Mississippi was having trouble with civil rights and separation, the show taught kids about difference, equality, and getting along with others. A lot of people thought the show was too extreme and on the cutting edge for the kids in the state.

A Reflection Of The Times

It's essential to understand why Mississippi banned Sesame Street by looking at the bigger picture. In the United States, the early 1970s were a rough time, with changes in culture and heated arguments about civil rights and how TV affects the minds of young people. In this setting, Sesame Street became a new show that tried to close the achievement gap in schools.
Sesame Street And Real Person
Sesame Street And Real Person

Role Of Education In The Sesame Street Ban Controversy

During the rough time when Mississippi banned Sesame Street, education was a crucial part of how the story unfolded and how the choice was finally settled. There were disagreements and worries about what was shown on the show, which made it very clear that education was at the center of the issue. Today, we're going to talk about how important education was during the Mississippi Sesame Street ban.

The Educational Mission Of Sesame Street

Sesame Street was made with a clear educational goal in mind: to give kids, especially those from low-income families, access to early childhood education that wasn't already available. The lessons on the show were mostly about teaching fundamental skills like writing, math, and reading. With this plan, the educational gap between kids from different socioeconomic groups was meant to be closed.

Opposition To Progressive Educational Values

Mississippi banned Sesame Street because they disagreed with the show's progressive teaching ideas. At the time, some people in Mississippi said that the program's focus on diversity and acceptance went against the state's traditional beliefs. They thought the show promoted ideas about society that they didn't think kids should see.

A Discrepancy In Educational Vision

The Sesame Street ban showed a big problem with how Mississippi's leaders plan to teach their kids. On one side, some people knew it was essential to take a more open and varied approach to schooling. They thought Sesame Street was a great way to teach kids to be tolerant and understanding. Some people, on the other hand, were afraid that these ideals went against the state's strict societal norms.

A Change Of Heart

People had strong feelings about the ban on Sesame Street in Mississippi. It caused communities to split and heated arguments. However, as the debate grew, some Mississippians changed their minds.
They saw that the show's educational material and focus on acceptance could be good for the state's kids, even if it went against some traditional views. In this part, we'll talk about how some Mississippians changed their minds and what that means for the Sesame Street ban debate.

A Growing Realization

As the ban on Sesame Street went on, more and more people in Mississippi began to understand how valuable the show's educational material was. People in other states and countries saw how the program helped kids and heard from parents, teachers, and community leaders. They knew that Mississippi's kids would not grow and develop appropriately if they weren't given these educational perks.was wrong for the growth of Mississippi's children.

A Shift In Attitudes

As people's views started to change, some Mississippians who had backed the ban at first changed their minds. They became aware of how vital Sesame Street's lessons were; they were meant to teach kids basic skills like reading and math in a fun and exciting way. This change in attitude showed a desire to try new ways of teaching.

Recognizing The Educational Value

Educators and experts in child development were critical in helping this change of heart happen. They said that Sesame Street had a history of making things better for kids in early childhood education. Many people in Mississippi came to see the worth in the way of teaching that was based on study and made learning fun and valuable.

Sesame Street's Return

The Mississippi Sesame Street ban was a controversial topic that got a lot of attention across the country and led to heated arguments. As people's views changed and they started to change their minds, Mississippi reached a turning point that led to the return of Sesame Street. This part will talk about how important it is that Sesame Street is coming back to Mississippi and what that means for the ban debate as a whole.

A Victory For Education

That Sesame Street came back to Mississippi was a big win for education in the state. Mississippi decided to bring back the show because they know how important it is to give kids training materials that are both fun and useful. The fact that Sesame Street has a history of making early childhood education better became an asset to the state's education system.
 Sesame Street First Asian American Muppet
Sesame Street First Asian American Muppet

The Power Of Public Pressure

The reaction and public pressure from across the country were critical in getting Sesame Street back to Mississippi. There was a wave of support that made it hard for the state to keep the ban in place. This support came from educators, child development experts, and influential people, as well as from groups and civil rights activists.

Bridging The Ideological Divide

When Sesame Street came back, it helped connect Mississippi's conservative society with the show's more liberal ideas. It showed that people were ready to work together to find common ground and add new and valuable teaching material that fit with the state's cultural norms.

When Mississippi Banned Sesame Street - FAQs

Which Episode Of Sesame Street Was Banned?

No specific episode of Sesame Street was banned; the entire show faced a ban in Mississippi.

Where Was Sesame Street Banned?

Sesame Street was banned in the state of Mississippi.

Does Sesame Street Still Exist?

Yes, Sesame Street still exists and continues to air new episodes.

How Long Has Sesame Street Gone For?

Sesame Street has been on the air since 1969, making it over 50 years old.


The controversy surrounding Mississippi's ban on Sesame Street remains a significant chapter in the history of children's television. It serves as a reminder of the power of television to influence young minds and the role of community values and education in shaping programming decisions.
The clash of ideologies and the subsequent resolution highlight the dynamic nature of society and the importance of open dialogue when it comes to what our children watch on television. In the end,
Sesame Street's return to Mississippi exemplified the capacity for change and adaptation in even the most conservative of settings, reaffirming the show's enduring legacy in educating and entertaining children nationwide. I hope tat you have known when mississippi banned sesame street.
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Celeste Pearl

Celeste Pearl

Celeste Pearl is an accomplished writer and expert in numerology, astrology, and spirituality. With a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and over 6 years of writing experience, Celeste brings a wealth of expertise to her articles, making complex topics accessible and engaging for readers. Her passion for metaphysical sciences is evident in her insightful content, where she explores the depths of these subjects with clarity and depth. Beyond her professional pursuits, Celeste enjoys delving into spiritual practices and connecting with nature for inspiration.
Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes is a seasoned journalist with over 10 years of experience, specializing in news reporting and horoscope analysis. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from New York University, enhancing her credibility and expertise in the field. Kelly's writing style is characterized by clarity, depth, and a commitment to delivering credible information. Her published works across various platforms showcase her knack for engaging storytelling and insightful analysis. Readers trust Kelly's expertise in both current events and astrological interpretations, making her a sought-after authority in journalism. Apart from her professional activities, Kelly enjoys exploring new cultures, practicing yoga, and engaging in philanthropic activities.
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