An Old Mr. Rogers Video Is Reminding Everyone How Important Public Programming Is

His words are once again relevant today.

February marks the 49th anniversary of the first episode of "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood," the famous children's television show hosted by Fred Rogers.

That anniversary, teamed with the news that Congress is considering cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), has people remembering a famous Mr. Rogers moment. In 1969, he delivered a moving speech to the U.S. Senate to defend public broadcasting. 

In the video, Rogers addresses the Senate's Subcommittee on Communications, speaking directly to the committee chairman John Pastore. Throughout his impassioned speech, Rogers emphasizes to Pastore the positive, character-building traits of his show.

"I end the program by saying, 'You made this day a special day by just you being you. There's no person in the whole world like you and I like you just the way you are,'" he said. "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."

Comparing the meager budget of his show to cartoons, along with acknowledging the age-inappropriate things children can find on television, Rogers pleaded with Pastore to keep funding intact.

And yet, today, the United States finds itself in a similar predicament: if Congress decides to cut CPB funding, the more than 1,500 news stations supported by the money could be in danger of disappearing. Congress is also discussing a vote to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, according to The Hill. 

In, the end, despite Pastore's skepticism, Rogers successfully pleaded his case.

"Well, I'm supposed to be a pretty tough guy," Pastore said. "And this is the first time I've had goose bumps in the last two days."

Not long after, Congress approved a plan to increase the funds for CPB from $5 million to $23 million.

You can watch Rogers' speech below:



Cover photo via The White House / Susan Sterner.

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