Atlanta

Atlanta mayor joins Sesame Street town hall to talk about racism with kids and parents

ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms helped answer questions about race from some of the youngest Atlantans on Saturday.

Bottoms was part of a town hall hosted by CNN and Sesame Street to help parents and their children talk about racism, build empathy and embrace diversity.

“Mayor, what is your message to these kids at home who want to know how they can change things,” CNN’s Van Jones asked Bottoms.

“My message to them is keep being who you are. Keep loving each other. And when you see someone who’s doing something wrong or saying something wrong, say that it is wrong,” Bottoms said. “Make sure when your friends sometimes do things they shouldn’t do, that you say to them that, that’s not right, you shouldn’t do that, and say it with love, and just lead by example.”

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A 9-year-old from Illinois asked a question that if black people contributed so much to society, why are they being treated so badly?

Bottoms said that is a question that has been asked for generations.

“I don’t know if we will have the answer to that. But what I know is just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream for his four children that they would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin, we have to continue to dream and hope and work on that this country will live up to that,” Bottoms said. “Some people just don’t know any better. Some people say that hurt people, hurt people, and I think that’s what happens when see black and brown people being treated unfairly.”

Big Bird even got in the mix of the questions, introducing a friend who asked how to respond when a classmate says, "Why do black lives matter when all lives matter?" especially when a child is one of the few black students in the class.

“You just have to explain to them that there is a history for black people in this country that’s not like any other race in this country. We are the only race of people who came to this country enslaved. And it’s the reason that we have to continue to call on our history and speak our history,” Bottoms said.

You can watch the mayor’s full interview below, which includes questions from local children across metro Atlanta.