'Santas Just Like Me' aims to provide inclusive Santa experience for families

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Jolly Old Saint Nick is making a special stop to the historical Hayti Heritage Center just days before Christmas. He came all the way from the North Pole to take holiday photos with all the good little boys and girls who made the nice list this year. This event is representation at its finest for Natalie Bess.

"I drive an hour. I live in Tarboro. We drive an hour and a half just to participate in this event," said Bess. "I'm just real intentional about the images they see. That they see a black Santa can bring toys and joy and all those good things around Christmas."

Black Santa is the only Santa her two-year-old son Christopher has ever known. That's the case for 6-year-old Carly, too.

"Carly gets plenty of white at home. Her dad and I are both white. It's important for her to see important people who look like her, but it also helps children like her cousins who are white come into our house helps them understand the world around them is not all white as it can sometimes be portrayed," said Raleigh resident and mom Margaret Symonds.

A lack of diversity among Santas forced Stafford Braxton to launch Santas Just Like Me in 2013. It encourages Santas of all ethnic backgrounds to spread holiday cheer along the east coast. He believes there should be a Santa for every community who spreads holiday cheer and brings an inclusive experience to families everywhere.

"I've been looking for a Hispanic Santa for quite some time. That can cover the gamut as it relates to color, but someone who speaks the language too. The Asian community too," said Braxton.
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