Officer Clemmons by Francois S. Clemmons
Publication Date: 2021
This intimate debut memoir by our own Artist in Residence emeritus Francois Clemmons "is the man known to the world as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood's Officer Clemmons." He 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" (NPR). When he created the role of Officer Clemmons on the award-winning television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, François Clemmons made history as the first African American actor to have a recurring role on a children's program. A new, wide world opened for Clemmons--but one that also required him to make painful personal choices and sacrifices. Officer Clemmons details Clemmons's incredible life story, beginning with his early years in Alabama and Ohio, marked by family trauma and loss, through his studies as a music major at Oberlin College, where Clemmons began to investigate and embrace his homosexuality, to a chance encounter with Fred Rogers that changed the whole course of both men's lives, leading to a deep, spiritual friendship and mentorship spanning nearly forty years. From New York to Russia, Berlin to California, and finally Middlebury, Grammy Award-winner Clemmons has performed for audiences around the world and remains a beloved figure. Evocative and intimate, and buoyed by its author's own vivacious, inimitable energy, Officer Clemmons chronicles a historical and enlightening life and career of a man who has brought joy to millions of adults and children, across generations and borders.