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November 26, 2012 at 8:51 AM

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The man behind Elmo departs, leaving a void on Sesame Street and in our hearts

It is not simply because I grew up watching Sesame Street that I feel like something shifted in the cosmos after "Sesame Street" puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned.

Clash had to leave. He is battling accusations of sexual relationships with minors. One accuser has recanted but whether the second allegation is true or not, Clash is right to separate himself from Sesame Workshop.

But that does not mean we can't honor the voice of Elmo since 1985. There was always a sense of pride for me in Clash's being African American. In a country that continues to question - more subtlety now - the abilties and qualifications of black people - Clash was a testament to our collective endurance, perseverance and creative genius. Few boys of any color were sewing and playing with puppets in the 1970s. Clash was and he grew up to turn puppetry into one of the most enduring educational television productions in history.

This PBS documentary captures to a T Clash's determination growing up in a working-class Baltimore suburb dreaming of working with Muppets creator Jim Henson.

Watch Meet the Man Behind Elmo on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Left now for the nonprofit PBS and Sesame Workshop is how to replace one of the biggest creative forces in its organization and in the television industry.


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