Mr. Rogers became a household name soon after his the 1968 debut of his television show "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood." He spoke directly to kids about their feelings and enlisted the help of hand puppets and visitors that often dropped in. He covered topics ranging from fear to disability and loneliness. In an era where hatred and division were commonplace, Fred Rogers taught that people could be united by universal acceptance and compassion.
He taught children values such as the importance of effort, responsibility, gratitude, and concern for others. His sense of empathy, more than anything else, is why people still remember Mister Rogers today. He was a genius of empathy; a man who understood what he called "the drama of childhood." He truly cared for people, not just as a television personality, but from his deeply held belief that every child was special in some way. Mister Rogers wasn't embarrassed to be good; he was never too cool to be gentle.
He created the longest-running program in PBS history, airing from 1968 to 2001. In that time, he had a profound influence on children and educators alike. He showed us how to be a good person, a good neighbor, and most importantly, to be nice.
"The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile."
"One of the greatest dignities of humankind is that each successive generation is invested in the welfare of each new generation."
"I don't think anyone can grow unless he's loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be."
"Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness."
"Parents are like shuttles on a loom. They join the threads of the past with threads of the future and leave their own bright patterns as they go."
"Nobody else can live the life you live. And even though no human being is perfect, we always have the chance to bring what's unique about us to live in a redeeming way."
"In a way, you've already won in this world because you're the only one who can be you."
"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."
"It's not so much what we have in this life that matters. It's what we do with what we have."
"Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like 'struggle.' To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."
"Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people."
"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else."
"Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person."
"There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind."
On May 1, 1969, one year after he began his series, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" Fred Rogers was allowed to testify at the Senate's Subcommittee on Communications to secure funding for PBS.
The hardened chairman of the committee Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode Island, supported drastic PBS budget cuts and was unfamiliar with Rogers' work. He was so moved by Rogers' passionate, yet soft toned testimony about the need for social and emotional education of America's children that public, non-commercial television provides, that he unexpectedly rethought his position, ending the hearing saying "Looks like you just earned the $20 million!"
In June of 2002, one year after his 33 year series ended, Fred Rogers was invited to deliver the commencement address to students graduating from Dartmouth College. He taught the same message of positivity throughout his career.
His favorite quote is from the book, "The Little Prince," “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” In English it reads, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”