It could be argued that searching for bigotry is now America’s favorite national pastime. To support the premise that all minorities are victims of a white male orchestrated society, virtually every aspect of everyday life is examined closely for even the slightest hint of racial prejudice.
Now, we find that Charlie Brown is accused of being a bigot — or rather his creator and animator, the late Charles Schulz.
This screen shot from “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” that aired on ABC just before Thanksgiving was cited by many in the Twitter universe as an example of Schulz’s explicit bias by having Charlie’s black friend, Franklin, seated by himself on the opposite side of the table from Sally, Charlie, Peppermint Patty and Snoopy. Linus and Marcie are at the ends.
How come Franklin, Charlie Brown’s only black friend, sits alone on the other side of the table? And in a lawn chair, tweeted Cynthia Haynes (@ChefCynthiaC) November 22, 2018.
Vic Damone, Jr. wrote, “Not watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving anymore, until they sit some people on the same side of the table as Franklin.” (@Asharp52) November 22, 2018.
“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” first aired in 1973, five years after Schulz first introduced Franklin, Charlie’s black friend, into the group.
Franklin was brought to animation life due to the heartfelt appeal by a white teacher, Harriet Glickman, who wrote Schulz a powerful letter shortly after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. She pleaded for a black character added to the “Peanuts” cast that she said could have a major impact on race relations during this turbulent period.
So against serious push-back from his editor, whom he reportedly told that he would quit if Franklin was not included, Schulz brought Franklin to life 50 years ago. [Franklin may be the most well-adjusted of all Charlie’s friends].
So the accusation that Schulz is racist is unfounded and disparaging. He was just the opposite. (Even the website “Snopes” agrees.)
We don’t know why Franklin is seated by himself. We could speculate that he was the last of Charlie’s friends introduced so he was given a place of honor at the table (and apparently given more desserts as well). And Franklin was at least invited to dinner while at least one notable character was not — Charlie’s nemesis Lucy.
The year before “Thanksgiving” first aired, 1972’s “Snoopy Come Home” shows Franklin seated with the entire cast of the “Peanuts” cartoon. (Found here at 1:04:42).
This speculation doesn’t matter, Schulz took a considerable career risk to give us Franklin and demonstrate he hatred for racism.
His genius and insights gave us timeless, beloved characters we can all relate to. “Peanuts” is an American classic that we should celebrate and enjoy, not try to tear apart.