Samuel Bowers (1924–2006) was a co–founder of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. This is a man who was convicted of murdering several civil rights leaders. He was a product of his time.

You know who else was a product of that same time? Mister Rogers (1928–2003), host of the American children’s television show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, a man the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously chose to honor for his “steadfast commitment to demonstrating the power of compassion, and his dedication to spreading kindness through example.”

Clearly it was possible to be born in the 1920s without growing up to be a racist murderer. Any given time and place in history will produce a range of people, from amazing, kind, compassionate human beings to frightened, hateful, bigoted cowards.

Jim C. Hines on men of their times.