Your Nappy Ass Roots: Roosevelt Franklin

Brought to you by the letters R, B, and G.

Roosevelt Franklin was a member of the cast of Sesame Street in the early 1970s. The revolutionary character was believed to be African-American based on the way he spoke and his propensity to sing/dance/rhyme/scat in normal conversation.  He was the founder of Roosevelt Franklin Elementary school, wherein he taught his pupils — also believed to be black for the same reasons —lessons in black pride and nationalism, an agenda considered radical by the other residents of Sesame Street.  In one of his most famous, daring lessons, Roosevelt taught his pupils about Africa in an attempt to erase the stereotypical imagery planted in their heads by western media.

Shortly after this lesson aired, Roosevelt Franklin was found shot to death in his dressing room.  No one was ever arrested, but 5 large, yellow feathers were found at the crime scene.


Brokey McPoverty

Brokey McPoverty, aka Tracy Clayton, is a writer and humorist from Louisville, KY. She currently writes for BuzzFeed and lives in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter.

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  • Lisa

    You know you wrong boy! You know you wrong! Plus you made me bark with laughter in the middle of the office. People think I’ve lost my danged mind.

    • woman. brokey is a woman.

  • melodik

    this just made my day.
    i can’t believe i’ve never seen this before!

  • HI-freakin-LARIOUS!!!!

    You know, I remember seeing Roosevelt in some old Sesame Street episodes (I watched it every day when I was little) but I never assigned a color to any of the characters. But when I read the Arthur storybooks I assumed all the characters except Buster were black– despite the fact that they’re all animals. *shrug*

  • Brought to you by the letters R, B, and G.

    Oh, how I laughed.

  • He was before my time, but I loved him! He was taken off because people claimed he re-enforced negative stereotypes [The cast vocally disagreed with this] :-(

  • dilettante

    Wow! I remember Sesame Street. I can’t believe this clip! Sad to think that at the time it was probably? meant to be inspirational black & proudy /positive. I’ll skip posting the link to the the TRANSFORMERS movie re:the black bots who ‘don’t like to read. ahh progress.

    I’ve always thought Ernie of Burt & Ernie was a brother.

  • mimikota

    Wow! I can’t believe I’ve never seen Roosevelt. I’ve watched all of the clips. Thanks for sharing.

  • LaJane Galt

    Love how he covered every subject of exploitation by outsiders (sans slavery). Homemuppet in the dashiki is killing me!

    As silly as it looks now, Children’s TV Workshop works hard to be culturally relevant to its audience. There is a doc on PBS that discusses this.

  • Margaret

    Franklin was my brother’s favorite muppet. He was voiced by the actress Holly Robinson-Peete’s father, Matt Robinson, who also played the original Gordon.

    Franklin is the original ‘BrotherMan’.