Will you be my neighbor?

The 2018 documentary film Won’t You Be My Neighbor? chronicles Fred Rogers’s life and significant contribution as a public television pioneer in children’s programming. I am among many who grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. At the heart of his message was a sense of everyone’s worth. He ended every show with “You make every day a special day just by being you, and I like you just the way you are.”

This concept of unconditional love and belonging clearly struck a chord with countless children over the show’s thirty-plus years. And Mr. Rogers didn’t shy away from applying this message to some of the more charged social and political issues of the times. On one segment he invited Mr. Clemmons, a policeman on the show played by a black actor, to join him in rolling up his pants and cooling off his feet in a kiddie pool on a hot day. Afterward, Rogers dried his friend’s feet, making a bold statement against the racial divides of his day.

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