How did we get to Sesame Street? Via LBJ’s Great Society

May 27, 2014

by Katie Zezima
May 22, 2014
published in The Washington Post

As part of our project on the 50th anniversary of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society, we will take a look this week at some lesser-known but important things that came out of the myriad programs that were created and legislation that passed. We now take many of them for granted. Each day this week we'll highlight one. Sesame Street Joe Namath, quarterback for the New York Jets, chats with Big Bird during taping of the children's television show Joe Namath, quarterback for the New York Jets, chats with Big Bird during taping of the children's television show "Sesame Street" in a New York studio on Sept. 25, 1972. (AP Photo/Harry Harris)

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In 1967, Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, which created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It provides operational support to public media around the country. PBS wanted to create a children's television show, and an idea was pitched by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. That show was Sesame Street, and it came to TV screens across the country in 1969. Here's a clip from the first episode: "When you think about the Great Society and this dream for a better country, Sesame Street fits so neatly into that because it was created for children who weren't getting read to at night, who didn’t have little record players at home and weren't listening to music. It was created for those children who didn’t have the preparation at home that other children in other circumstances were getting," said Michael Davis, the author of "Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street." read more