It’s been a busy year. That’s my only excuse for having just gotten around to watching the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor. The film takes viewers behind the scenes of the much-loved Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and gives us a more intimate look at its star. It was an uplifting reminder of the lovely things that can happen when we emphasize kindness and care for one another.
The film includes footage of Fred Rogers’ presentation to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in 1969. Funding for public broadcasting was in jeopardy, and Mr. Rogers was speaking on behalf of the system. While this event is spoken of often in our industry, seeing it play out on screen was deeply moving. To the somewhat skeptical senators, Mr. Rogers spoke from the heart:
“I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, ‘You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.’ And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.”
Those words likely saved public television nearly fifty years ago. Moreover, they – and the man who spoke them – created a legacy that continues to this day. Public television remains a safe, respectful, nurturing place for children to learn and grow. Thank you for the important role you play in safeguarding this resource.