I had the good fortune to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on television with my children in the 80’s. I also had the good fortune to hear Fred Rogers speak at a national teacher’s conference in the 90’s. He was a kind and gentle man, and he commanded the love and respect of children and parents – because he understood children. He also understood the world, and more importantly, children’s place in the world.
Most recently I watched (twice) the new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I thought I knew… well, there is so much. I didn’t know.
I highly recommend watching this film. Remember, it is a documentary, not a movie. I will share one story that blew my socks off:
Racial tension was at a high. In the south, a film clip showed black people swimming in a pool, and white people walking along the outside edge of the pool pouring straight chlorine bleach into the pool. So how did Mister Rogers handle that on his show? He was sitting, with his feet in a wading pool. Along comes Officer Clemmons, a popular (and black) character on the show.
“Hi Officer Clemmons. How are you? It’s a hot day. Would you like to sit and cool off?”
They sit side-by-side exchanging greetings, and Officer Clemmons takes off his shoes and socks, and joins Mister Rogers in the wading pool. Their feet are swimming together, black and white. It’s that subtle. It’s that powerful.
What a perfect way to combat racial prejudice. Better yet, what a brilliant way to bring the world to children. Humanity and kindness at it’s best, in an everyday situation.
That’s what Mister Rogers did.
He saw the inside of everyone, not the outside.
Fred Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award bestowed by the President of the United States. He received the coveted Peabody Award. The Smithsonian Institution displays his trademark sweater.
Mister Rogers list of accomplishments is a long list, yet to him (and me) his most important accomplishments aren’t on those lists. They’re what he did everyday with children. He has a lot to say about that.
Stayed tuned for Part 2, and the words of Mister Rogers himself.
i love mr. rogers, and his way with children and the world
He was one of the best!
Yes, and what a legacy he’s left
Have you seen the documentary?
Yes! And I met a woman at a teaching conference who had worked with him for 40 years and said that he was like that in everyday life and how much she missed and loved him.i saw her in the doc.
Oh my!!! How wonderful that you crossed paths with her. What part of the documentary struck you? I think the opening where he is at the piano talking about children was huge for me. I kept saying, Yes!
I kept crying and nodding yes. I loved his natural teaching of inclusion!
Me, too!! 🙂
What a wonderful way to spread compassion ❤️
We never had Mr Rogers. Looks like we missed out. 🙂
Best wishes, Pete.
I wondered it was shown on BBC. Best to you, Pete.
Mr. Rogers was an amazing person. The world needs more folks like him, especially the children.
He was on twice a day when my children were little and I used to watch it with my two every day.
He had the best field trips! I wish he was in reruns for the little ones today.
Daniel Tiger isn’t quite the same at all.
I remember his field trip to the Crayola factory. Yes, he did so much on his show. Doesn’t PBS carry his reruns?? I highly recommend the documentary, Deborah.
If there are reruns I haven’t seen them. Perhaps like Sesame Street to get the really good episodes you have to subscribe to a channel? We had HBO for years which carried the good episodes of Sesame St. but we’ve dropped HBO getting closer to cutting the T.V. cord.
For #1 Grandson I found Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, but like I said it’s just not the same.
I’ll look for the documentary.
The show is on PBS Kids. Thank goodness it’s still running! And yes, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is just not the same.
Fred Rogers will always be one of my heroes. I cried more times during that documentary than I care to admit.
Me, too! Thanks, Sharon.
one of my heroes!
Yes! I’m so glad. 🙂
For the longest time, WQED in Pittsburgh was one of the (only) 4 TV stations we had to choose from. Mr. Rogers worked for older kids and adults, too!
He really did, Dan. Pittsburgh was where he started the TV show.
I have heard wonderful things about this film. Our Pastor mentioned watching the film and how much he learned about Fred Rogers. I want to see this one. 🙂
Your Pastor was right. This film is a winner. I want to see it for the third time because there is so much in the documentary.
I missed out on Mr. Rogers as I didn’t watch when I was in America in the mid-80s and he was not on UK television, but sounds like it would be a good idea to re-run the series every generation… xxx
Definitely a good idea, Sally. 🙂
He was an odd duck, but he sure had a heart of gold and tried hard to teach others to be a good person.
He certainly did. 🙂
About not re-running the shows: I thought I read somewhere after he died that either he stipulated to not run them in ‘perpetuity’ or his heirs decided on that…but it was an actual decision – not oversight – to not rerun his shows…I’m surprised it wasn’t covered in the documentary. (which I’ll have to catch BTW!)
And just as a little aside, I don’t think it’s necessarily PBS’ policy to not rerun shows because just look at how long Bob Ross has been rerun (and is still on in this area’s PBS station) long after his death…
The show is on PBS Kids. I’m so glad! You will love the documentary, Laura.
yay! Long live Mr. Rogers!
Loved Fred Rogers when my kids were little. He was magnificent.
Yes, he was. I’m glad you got to watch his show.
Jennie, Thank you for another wonderful post!
You are welcome, Charles!
Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
Here is another wonderful post from Jennie, the extraordinary teacher!
Thank you for sharing this, Charles.
Growing up, I had no idea how amazing Mr. Rogers was. I just thought he had a nice show, but only now am I beginning to realize just how significant his contributions to American society were.
I have much more appreciation for him now, too. He truly left a legacy.
Getting this post tonight is such a coincidence! I was talking to a faculty colleague today about a new communication course that needs to be developed, and he cited Mr. Rogers’ method of communicating with children as a goal for the course because of its clarity and meticulous attention to connotation.
How wonderful! I’m so glad these two happened in the same day. I hope you watch the documentary, as your colleague was right. Thank you!
The documentary is on my must-watch list!
I’m so glad, Liz!
I watched Mr. Rogers as a grownup and I am so glad I did. I loved his soft and ever-accepting ways. Yes, he sure did contribute a lot to society as a whole. thank you so much.
He really did, Anne! Thank you!!
I think you have mentioned Mr Rogers before on your blog, Jennie. I would not recognise the name otherwise as we didn’t have this show here. Sounds like a great documentary.
I probably have mentioned him before, Robbie. The show was tremendous. You would love the documentary. Thanks!
I LOVED Mr. Rogers! I came across this show on PBS by accident while flipping thru channels. A wonderful program!! There were SO many things I didn’t know about this man. He was a wonderful human being and a Huge loss! Thanks for sharing! ❤
I’m so glad you liked this, Penny. He was a wonderful person. Thank you!
I’m not sure that I know of Mr Rogers. I don’t think his show came here. It’s a pity because we could all benefit from the lessons like the one you describe in this post.
I know, his show was only in America. BUT as a teacher, you will love, LOVE the documentary. Thank you, Norah.
I appreciate your recommendation. I have no doubt at all, Jennie. 🙂
Thank you, Norah. It’s now on Netflix. 🙂
I’ll try to remember to check it out next time I’m on Netflix (I’m not very often. 🙂 ).
I watched Mr. Rogers ages ago when I was a kid. I need to see this documentary.
For anyone who watched the show, the documentary is a must. Thank you!
I still want to see this as soon as possible. Not sure where I’ll find it. Missed it along with so much else. I liked Mr Rogers and anything PBS put on. My first husband worked at a PBS station in Memphis for 8 years. All the children’s shows helped my son with language skills. We need more like him, but I think I’ve said this before. 😉
He did more for children than most people realize. We do need more like him! PBS has outstanding programs. It must have been wonderful for your husband to work at that station. If you Google the documentary, you can probably find where it is playing. I think Netflix has it! Thank you, Marlene!
if it’s on netflix, I’ll find it. Thanks, Jennie.
I believe it is, Marlene! 🙂
Wow! That is a great story. Our love when people make political statements in non-confromtational manner.
Yes, indeed. Thank you, Bernice.
First time i heared about him, but as you told, his work is great. A subtile way fighting against racism. Let me look for the documentary too. Thank you for the information, Jennie! Best wishes, Michael
Thank you, Michael. Best to you!
My entire family and I went to the theater to see this documentary when it was released last year, there were many noticeable tears throughout the audience. Then as soon as the DVD was available I purchased one for each of us. Mister Rogers was a beloved family member to my children from the early 70’s through the 80’s. I used to call my Son a “Sesame Street Dropout”, but Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was never missed. Fred Rogers became his friend and early mentor. Thanks to the PBS DVD’s, he is just as loved by my 5 year old Grandson, Benjamin. I highly recommend Maxwell King’s book published in Sept. 2018 : “The Good Neighbor : The Life and Work of Fred Rogers”. I would usually add a quote, but will wait until you post Part 2. Thank-you!
That is just wonderful, Ellen! I love hearing your family story. Some of the children in my class watch his show on PBS. I’m glad you felt the same way about the documentary. I saw it in the theater, too, and I was deeply moved. I don’t know Maxwell King’s book, so thank you!! I will be looking forward to your quote.
I always felt Fred Rogers was one of the most genuine human-beings. He is so very much missed in today’s world.
Never seen him – but that sounds great.
Even though you have never seen him, as a former teacher you will love the documentary. Highly recommended for you, Opher. It’s now on Netflix.
I’m South African and I live in the UK so I don’t know this show but it looks really lovely.
It is, and thank you!
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Thank you, Sally!
I agree with your assessnent. Thank you for this very respectful tribute.
You are very welcome!
I’ve never hear of Mr Rogers but from what you’ve shared here with us, he was one damn fine man if I might say so! 😊
He really was, Sarah. Jill at Filosofa’s Word recently posted on her blog an outstanding post on Mister Rogers. Very informative! You will enjoy it.
Thanks for the tip, Jennie! Happy Sunday! 😀
Oh how I love Fred (meow, meow) Rogers. My oldest would watch, mesmerized, at the age of two, and soak in the sound of his voice. My husband loved watching his show for the segment on how things are made. Such a beautiful soul.
He reached people on so many different levels. I remember the episode on making crayons at the Crayola factory. Thanks, Cheryl!
You’re welcome! I want to see the movie.
It’s a documentary, so that tells you how good it is. It is on Netflix!