Today’s media climate is broken. It is volatile. It’s hard to remember a time when there was a national figure as beloved as Fred Rogers. He was known to families across the country. He was known as the friendly host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Rogers was a champion for children. He knew their needs. He knew their desires. He knew feelings were important above all else. He was on the air for 33 years. His program taught kids how to be kind to each other. It taught them to love themselves.
He had a happy demeanor and tone. Rogers was famous for the simple cardigans that he wore on his show. These were all hand-knit. They were made by his mother. In 2003, Smithsonian wrote about his iconic wardrobe. A red sweater of his sits in the collections of the National Museum of American History. The curator then was Dwight Blocker Bowers. He said, “Mister Rogers’ style of comfort and warmth, of one-on-one conversation, is conveyed in that sweater. Can values be taught via mass culture? I think Mister Rogers is proof that they can.”
A new documentary is from Focus Features. It is billed as a close look at Rogers’ life. It also looks at the values that he held close. He used the show to help children. He helped them understand the real-life struggles of civil rights. He helped them understand the difficulties they might face at home. Those issues included divorce.
The movie is called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” It will hit theaters June 8.