‘Sesame Street’ actress Sonia Manzano to host conversation about children, race

September 10, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sonia Manzano -- an author, actress and speaker known worldwide as Maria from “Sesame Street” -- will host a conversation with the Penn State community and the Centre Region on Thursday, Sept. 16, about the importance of talking to children about race and racism.

The virtual conversation and Q&A session -- “How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism” -- will begin at 8 p.m. Sept. 16 and focus on how parents, grandparents and those working with children can learn how to talk to kids about race and other matters that impact their daily lives. The Penn State-sponsored event, held during Hispanic Heritage Month, is free and open to the public.

Visit the event website to register and ask questions, which must be submitted prior to the event.

Manzano will speak about how talking to kids about race is critical to raising them with empathy and compassion.

“A way to teach children the importance of equality is for the adults around them to be mindful of their own prejudiced acts,” she said. “Children copy and absorb adult sensibility. Parents and educators should share age-appropriate truths with children, reflecting the complexity of our world.” 

Marcus Whitehurst, Penn State vice provost for educational equity, says the University is committed to expanding its conversations on how race, racism and social justice impact communities.

“Sonia Manzano’s work has been tremendous in supporting growth and reach to the next generation of equity-minded leaders,” he said.

Karen Armstrong, director of inclusion, equity and diversity for Penn State Outreach and Online Education, says Manzano brings an important perspective to Penn State.

"Race and racism impact all of us, and this is an important conversation to have with our communities," she said.

Manzano is one of the most influential Latinas in television and broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. She has spent her life delivering messages of diversity, hope and understanding to children and adults alike through her work on “Sesame Street.”

She is the author of multiple published books, including “A World Together,” “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx,” “Miracle on 133rd Street,” “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano” and “The Lowdown on the High Bridge: The Story of How New York City Got Its Water.”

The event is sponsored by the Office of Educational Equity, Penn State Human Resources, Penn State Outreach and Online Education, Penn State World Campus Student Affairs, the College of Education’s Office of Education and Social Equity, the Penn State Alumni Association, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for Finance and Business.

Visit the event website for more information.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 10, 2021