The Honors recognizes "icons" who have "left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness."
The noncommercial TV icon, which now debuts episodes first on HBO, is being saluted for its "barrier-braking" multicultural cast, early childhood education mission, and of course the Muppets who helped that mission succeed with a multicolored cast of personalities including Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, The Count, Cookie Monster, Elmo, Grover, Oscar, Bert and Ernie.
"Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder," the Kennedy Center said on its website. "Sesame Street was the first preschool program to integrate education and entertainment and has brought joyful learning to generations."
Others being honored are actress Sally Field (whose TV credits include The Flying Nun and Gidget), singer Linda Ronstadt, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and Earth, Wind and Fire.
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