Marlo Thomas: Free to Be… All These Years Later

TIME

It was only a giggle and five words, but it told us our work was cut out for us.

The year was 1974, and my friend, producer Carole Hart, and I were deep into creating a TV special based on our children’s LP that celebrated gender and racial equality. Filled with songs and stories and poems, the project encouraged kids to realize that their dreams were not only boundless, but achievable. Our title for the project: Free to Be…You and Me.

For one scene in the special, we’d decided to interview children about how they envisioned their lives one day. This segment, we felt, would underscore that people had to be taught to be sexist; and that little children had not yet been socialized with gender stereotypes.

“What would you like to be when you grow up?” we asked one precious, curly-headed preschooler, the tape rolling as we waited…

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