What would the holidays be without a little bit of controversy? Most of us who host seldom-seen family members try to avoid politics around the dinner table. After, though, when watching traditional holiday reruns during the post-turkey stupor, anything is fair game. This year’s topic is that racist: Charlie Brown.
For those who didn’t grow up watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, there might be several things that need explaining. One, though, has struck new viewers as inexcusable.
Franklin, the show’s only black character, sits by himself at the Thanksgiving meal.
The feast is held at Chuck’s house after Peppermint Patty invites herself and others over to eat. The Browns had planned on dining at their grandmother’s house, but Linus suggests having two dinners.
During the meal, Franklin sits on one side of the crowded table. He sits on a lawn chair.
“Viewers reacted to the episode suggesting the way Franklin was treated by his friends is racist
Some viewers appeared to be watching the annual episode for the first time,” Daily Mail writes, “while others seemed to have only just noticed that Franklin was seated by himself.”
Am I woke now, why is Franklin in Charlie Brown Thanksgiving sitting all by himself at the table. Man. Things that I did not notice as a child.
— Yessam (@cmass4eva) November 22, 2018
“Am I woke now, why is Franklin in Charlie Brown Thanksgiving sitting all by himself at the table. Man. Things that I did not notice as a child.”
The purpose of this episode was to point out the racial divide that existed (exists) in America. @SchulzMuseum recently featured a great exhibit honoring Franklin & why it was a big deal to create his character & why so many people were against the character.
— John Pruitt – JP (@pruveit) November 22, 2018
At times, the Twitter feed seems to be veering in and out of satire. Some seem genuinely offended. Others seem to be mocking those who are offended.
Others go so far as to demand an edit to the show.
Not watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving anymore, until they sit some people on the same side of the table as Franklin ✊🏾✊🏾
— Vic Damone Jr (@Asharp52) November 22, 2018
Franklin first appeared 31 July 1968.
“Seriously please get some historical context. Charles M. Schultz was a trailblazer and bucked racism in those days by adding Franklin to reflect the issue… and challenging what was then going on in society,” Mark Larson.
— P. DeLizio Ed.S. (@teacher1722) November 23, 2018
“Seriously please get some historical context. Charles M. Schultz was a trailblazer and bucked racism in those days by adding Franklin to reflect the issue… and challenging what was then going on in society.”
The episode aired for the first time in 1973. It has aired annually every year since. Franklin, as the story goes, was added to the Charlie Brown comic strip after a reader wrote to Schultz and asked for a black character.
“Harriet Glickman assured Schultz that something as small as him writing a child of color into his work as the friend of a white child could make a radical impact,” DM notes.
Schultz initially thought the idea seemed thin. He didn’t want to seem like he was adding one character just to appear diverse. But Glickman and her friends persuaded him.
“Years after Franklin was first added into his comic strip, Schultz said that his editor was against the idea, however he told him, ‘Well, Larry, let’s put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How’s that?’ So that’s the way that ended,” DM adds.
That is obviously not the way it ended. Franklin, it seems, is back in the debate.