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)

100 thoughts on “Being Black in ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’

  1. "I have been talking to you for years, but you heard me today."
    That is one of the most powerful things I've ever heard. It sounds like something one would hear God say.

  2. Mr.Rogers isn't just a personification of Christianity but he is a personification of the Good that exists in this world.

  3. I genuinely believe that Fred Rogers is one of the greatest men of our time and should be a role model for every person in society.

  4. honestly i thought this was going to be about how mr rogers is racist or something stupid like that but everything i hear about mr rogers says he was the nicest man in existence

  5. I wonder what Mr. Rogers would say to Donald Trump as a guest on his show, how he would handle his imminent narcissistic personality.
    …I assume Fred would be very kind, even if Trump lied straight to his face about his own feelings.

  6. Anyone else just figure out who Mister Rogers was a couple minutes ago and is now on a binge watch of Roger-related videos?

  7. We can honor Mr. Rogers life by being the kindest people to each other- and teaching our children to do the same.

  8. They gradually changed the culture. First it was a well spoken black guy being police.. now they got blacks acting violent with guns. It's all part of a plan to exterminate the white race

  9. I used to hate this show growing up 😂 it was so boring to me. Some old white guy changing into a colorful sweater and tying his shoes? 🙄 Like really?

    Now I'm regretful that I didn't pay more attention 😭😭😭

  10. This man is definitely waiting for all of us in heaven. All he would want to see your face and maybe say "Ah you've decided to join us"

  11. So glad Mr. Roger's was consistent enough to make me feel great as a kid and as an adult understanding how the world works.

  12. Doesn’t hide the fact he was a marine sniper and killed 150 people in his career. He wore those long sleeved shirts and sweaters to hide his ware tattoos.

  13. i watched Rogers growing up never missed a show the fact Tom hanks is playing him in the new movie is amazing hes such an amazing actor and so respectful to these types of roles i know it'll be just as amazing and full of messages just like the show..i miss being a kid mostly because of shows like these..RIP Rogers

  14. Clemons was also gay.
    Fred hired gay people to work on the show, something that was also blasphemy at the time, Fred didnt care or judged them, he just saw them as human

    Even him being Christian he wasn't effected by Gays and lesbians didnt think of them as a plaque or a different species like most Christians.
    He just saw them as people.
    Like he saw blacks as people .

    Mr Rogers is the example of what Christianity should be , accepting even the gays.

  15. Not only that. But when francois came out as openly gay, Fred still stayed friends with him. Despite the backlash, a true hero, man. A true hero, and one of the best people to ever grace this earth.

  16. I'm black and love Mr.Rogers as a kid and was shocked and sad when he passed away…Thank you Mr.Rogers for being in my neighborhood on television ❤

  17. If your a true Christan you won't comment or reply to me… in yet you will. ……………..fuckin sheep👊

  18. If you can find yourself watching this scene from this show and being disgusted you need to reevaluate your life lessons and morals

  19. I do not say this to be mean…I do not say this to be racist but.

    Can you imagine how many parents turned off the television after they saw a black man on a TV show? It’s outrageous not only did they turn off the TV when me Rogers was on but they also turned it off on a man who had no control over his own skin and I say dear sir I say you give people chances….they’ll give you a chance too
    And to never ever be racist because one day that will come back to haunt you…or it already has…

  20. I like Mr Robinson from Saturday Night live better. way more entertaining…I was shocked to SEE a black character on Mr Rogers, I never saw this guy on the show.

  21. Sad how Mr. Rodgers a "White Man"had to teach a black man to stop being racist and discriminating and just play the roll of a cop.

  22. I never really had a chance to watch Mr. Rogers show growing up but when I watch anything about him today my heart feels loved even though I didn't know him that well. Just by the way he speaks and smiles makes me feel that he truly cares and wants me to be happy. There is no lie in his eyes, he was a man with a pure heart.

  23. Thank goodness I found this because I came from another channel about murder, loss, insanity, and the consequences of modern society. I was so depressed. Thank you!

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