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Mr. Rogers's enduring legacy is so much more than cardigans

On Tuesday Fred Rogers would have turned 90. Although Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, passed away in 2003 from stomach cancer, the world never misses a chance to celebrate the pivotal role he played in so many young people’s lives.

The image of the man generally brings up fond memories from his show like his routine at the beginning of every episode: Singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” while changing from his work blazer to a cardigan (the colors were always changing and part of his signature style) and swapping his “work” shoes for his sneakers. These simple acts said so much about a man who sang a song reminding children to remember to be kind. 

Photo: Everett

While his style definitely lives on, it’s just a small part of his legacy considering he tackled difficult topics on his show that helped kids in so many ways. He was a teacher who dealt with current social issues like civil rights and assassinations. He taught children that divorce was something that people can still talk about no matter how sad they [the children] may feel. And his asking, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” had a deeper meaning that has endured for decades, letting an entire generation know that while their neighbor may be different, their differences should be embraced.

His voice was soothing and his words were kind. “I always felt I didn’t need to put on a funny hat or jump through a hoop to have a relationship with a child,” said Rogers. This summer, Tom Hanks will play Fred Rogers in a biopic. So on his 90th birthday, let’s celebrate the contributions Mr. Rogers made to this world and continue to learn from him, because — thankfully! — all the seasons are available on Amazon Prime.  

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