This Wednesday ABC will be airing A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Primetime, something that it has done over the years. Many people (myself included) will be tuning to watch Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang celebrate Thanksgiving.
Last year controversy broke out over this show, and not it’s because of the anti-Thanksgiving sentiment that the Left spreads around. Instead, several people decided the show was racist because Franklin (whom I presume can be considered the token black kid on the show) is sitting at the table with Charlie Brown and several other Peanuts characters, but is sitting on one side of the table by himself and in a lawn chair. In addition, the chair collapses and Franklin falls down. Thus, some people claim the show to be racist, with at least one viewer saying that he would not watch the show again until another character was seated next to Franklin.
I seriously doubt that Charles Schulz was being racist regarding this scene. First of all, the seating arrangement in all likelihood was random. Second, Franklin was not the only Peanuts character to suffer a misfortune (perhaps it was his turn to have something bad happen to him). Third, if Charles Schulz and company were racist, then Franklin would not have been on that show; in fact, the character of Franklin would not have even been created.
And now let’s focus on the origins of Franklin. In 1968, a schoolteacher in Los Angeles named Harriet Glickman wrote to Charles Schulz suggesting that he add a black character to the Peanuts comic strip. Schulz agreed, and the character of Franklin was born.
Franklin’s debut in the Peanuts comic strip involves him meeting Charlie Brown at the beach and becoming friends with him. Franklin’s father was a soldier serving in Vietnam at the time, and upon learning this, Charlie Brown replies that his father had fought in a war, but he didn’t know which one (perhaps Korea).
Franklin was puzzled by the behavior and situations surrounding the other characters, e.g. Linus’s obsession with the Great Pumpkin. And aside from the lawn chair collapsing at Thanksgiving, Franklin did not seem to experience unfortunate events.
It is likely that Schulz intended Franklin to be a non-stereotypical African-American character. Such was the situation with Lieutenant Nyota Uhura of Star Trek. It should be mentioned that Nichelle Nichols (who portrayed Lieutenant Uhura in the series) was told by Martin Luther King, Jr. said her character was not a stereotype, and that America needed to see more of such characters.
It is also likely that Franklin was a reflection of the times, e.g. the Civil Rights Movement, a black kid successfully integrating into a white neighborhood.
So feel free to tune into A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving without any fear of being labeled racist.