Throughout 20th century American history, few entertainers or educators have reached as many children over the course of generations as Fred Rogers. With ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,’ or some variation thereof having aired relatively consistently from his debut in 1953 on public television station WQED as part of The Children’s Corner, until the final airing of his defining work on PBS in 2007, Mister Rogers is one of the most celebrated and beloved children’s presenters of all time.
With reruns of the show still airing on some local public television stations and online and a total of 31 seasons, generation upon generation have grown up with the educator, song-writer and Presbyterian Minister and his countless, often musical lessons about sharing, kindness and the importance of imagination.
Devoutly religious, Rogers embraced and embodied the more progressive aspects of his faith, believing firmly in the power and importance of love, acceptance, togetherness and community, even during times of national tragedies.
Rogers passed in 2003 after a battle with stomach cancer. Before his passing, Rogers stood as one of the strongest proponents for public television. In 1969 when congress attempted to reduce funding to PBS, Rogers testified before the Senate subcommittee which was examining the matter.
After his testimony, in which he even recited song lyrics from his highly popular educational show, Rogers expressed sincere dedication to the educational importance of PBS, impressing Rhode Island Senator John Pastore so much, the subcommittee not only opted not to cut funding to the network, but increase its budget appropriation from $9 million to $20 million.
The respect and reverence for Rogers as one of the nation’s greatest public educators and children’s advocates runs so deep even today with the many adults who grew up watching ‘Neighborhood,’ that in 2012, PBS in collaboration with musician and mashup artist John D. Boswell, commissioned this video in tribute to the late, great Mister Rogers, in which the central theme of his love of imagination comes through with a modern twist that has delighted millions since its release.