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Being Black in ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’

Being Black in ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’


(TV clicking)
(upbeat tinny music) – [Voiceover] Nearly everyone remembers Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. ♫ It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood ♫ But not everyone knows that this cardigan-clad
king of children’s TV, Fred Rogers, was actually a pioneer who challenged racial
stereotypes in media. Enter Francois Clemmons. – Francois Scarborough Clemmons. – [Voiceover] And his
role as Officer Clemmons made him one of the first
recurring black characters on a children’s TV show. (upbeat electronic music) – When I started, there were
two, three shows, period, on television that
employed a black character. – [Voiceover] Francois grew up during the Civil Rights movement, in times of great racial
tension in the US. – So when Fred asked me
to be a police officer, “Fred, are you sure? “Do you know what policemen
represent in the community “where I was raised?” And then he started talking
about children needing helpers, and the positive influence
that I could have for young children. My heart opened as I listened to him. – [Voiceover] He accepted
the role, not knowing he would end up playing
Officer Clemmons for 30 years. And one of his most memorable scenes is also one of his favorites. ♫ There are many ways ♫ To say I love you, there are ♫ – [Francois] It’s a very big deal for me to be putting my
feet in the water with Fred. – [Voiceover] During
a time of segregation, the symbolism wasn’t lost on Francois. – To say that he didn’t
know what he was doing, or that he accidentally
stumbled into integration, or talking about racism or sexism, that’s not Mister Rogers. It was well planned and well thought out. And I think it was very impactful. ♫ There are many ways ♫ To say I love you ♫ – [Voiceover] That
impact was felt by many, but for Francois, it was personal. – I was in the studio one day, that particular day, he was
filming the end of the show. And when he got to the part, he said, “You make every day a special day.” – You know how, by just your being you. – And I swear, it was like, he was looking right into my eyes. And when the music stopped, I said, “Fred, were you talking to me?” And he said, yes, I have been
talking to you for years, but you heard me today. (piano music)


Reader Comments

  1. George Romero would of been behind that as well, (night of the living dead director)
    I believe he started as like a writer or producer, something with the show. Famous for giving black people the lead roles or big roles in his movies

  2. I grew up with a generation that honestly never watched Mr.Rogers Neighborhood but I’ve been watching a lot of videos lately about the show and I can see why the show was so iconic and changing Frank Rogers was an amazing man RIP

  3. I ain’t religious or racist, I just think that after watching this that me Rodgers is one of the most badass guys I’ve ever seen

  4. Cops are Corrupt and Sadistic, he didn't teach kids that and now they are being beaten, robbed, raped, abducted, extorted and murdered.

  5. Rest in peace fred, you where a part of my childhood in the 80s, you are missed, we need more of this today, and more programs and people like fred, especially in this fucked up Society we live in today.

  6. Mister Rogers was always concerned about what people DID, and what kind of person they were…. I remember there was a welder that was on the show once. Their business made art sculptures that were "roller coasters" for billiard balls. The welder had tattoos, looked like a biker, and went by the name "spider"… Mister Rogers greeted him just like anyone else, and asked him about his fascinating work.

  7. More brainwashing. How are black populated cities in America doing now that segregation and Jim Crow no longer exist? How are the school districts doing with black students?

  8. I'd love to live in Mister Rogers Neighborhood!!! That's a man who wouldn't call the police on black people for minding their business. Everybody make Fred a plate for the cookout and sit him at the elder table lol R.I.P Fred Rogers

  9. The part at the end is something very similar to what happens when you accept God unto your life. “I’ve been talking to you for years but, you heard me today.”

  10. "I have been talking to you for years when you heard me today" this man was on another plane of love and wisdom

  11. We need Mister Rogers back so much… Like with the recent atrocities that have been happening, Children seemed to be so kind and happy back then when he was around… Im a child myself and I really think the world would be a tad bit better if PBS Hosted some episodes back to help out.

  12. This video is one of those that just pick you up in the day. Never thought I would almost tear up for a 2 minute video.

  13. bro everytime i see anything about mr rogers i just wanna tear up, hes so kind and loving, hes exactly what kids of every generation need. r.i.p big man

  14. It's a wonderful thing that real racism is a thing of the past. Sure, there's a few morons left out there but we don't pay attention to them. God bless America.

  15. A Christian Republican? What a white man did that ? Because Republicans where the fighters to end segregation, slavery and Jim crow . The KKK was found to strong arm Republicans and civil rights leaders.

  16. I heard on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me that someone stole his car once and then returned later with a note saying that they were sorry and wouldn't have stolen it if they had known it was his. Pretty funny and wholesome. Even CRIMINALS knew this man was on another level

  17. Wow I grew up watching the reruns and 2000s episodes of Mister Rogers and never realized how much of a impact he had on my life I love how in 2:06 to 2:20 were he said Fred were you talking to me cause it really does feel like he's talking to you looking back it does seem like he was trying to talk to us

  18. I keep waiting for the story to break where Fred Rodgers murdered hobos or something but thankfully my cynicism hasn't been born out

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