The man known to the world as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood "Officer Clemmons" offers a personal history that follows him from a family of sharecroppers in the American South to a career as a Grammy Award-winning artist and groundbreaking actor, the first African American to have a recurring role on a children's television program.
... quite a good book, full of resonant moments and artistic insights, with only a few overly explanatory passages. Clemmons' memoir is often disarming in its intimacy and honesty. He vividly recalls his struggle with his homosexuality and his surviving of frequent racism — in some of the book's most affecting and powerful moments — as well as his noteworthy career ascent in musical performance ... [Clemmons] doesn't ask you to be his neighbor, but rather just to hear his story: one of a man of profound strength and talent who stood up, sang out, and, after great struggle, was heard.
No matter how sad or troubling his topic, Francois S. Clemmons radiates infectious optimism, fortitude and grace ... Mr. Clemmons digs well below superficial characterizations to share stories of moving onward and upward from the often-troubling circumstances of his life ... As much praise as he heaps on Fred Rogers, Mr. Clemmons refuses to deify him ... Still, the overwhelming number of Mr. Clemmons’ recollections about their relationship are positive. They lead to a satisfying, if a bit rushed, conclusion of Francois Clemmons making peace with his family, creating his most fulfilling artistic endeavor and finding a welcoming geographic and intellectual home at Middlebury College in Connecticut. Mr. Clemmons never shies away from the often brutal realities that helped shape him. That time and time again he chooses a path of faith, love and forgiveness speaks to his resilience and character. His hard-won positivity shines throughout this inspiring, open-hearted story.