Is “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special” Racist?


From Google Images

Marcela Marcial, Beat Investigator - Featured Athlete

“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.” People who grew up watching Charlie Brown specials know that it was a cute, fun, and innocent show that means no harm to anyone, only to entertain the viewers with an episode for each holiday. The holiday special, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” suddenly went viral recently because of a little scene.

The scene depicts Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Sally, and even the dog Snoopy sitting on one side of the table while Franklin, the only black character, sitting on the other side of the table all by himself in a rickety old lawn chair when everyone else is sitting in nice chairs.

This episode was released on November 20, 1973 and was re-aired the day before Thanksgiving, when someone went to Twitter and pointed out the seemingly racist scene.

Later on in the episode, “Franklin topples over in his half-broken chair.”

From Google Images

While people were upset and saying, “Not watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving anymore,” others hopped over to social media to defend the creator of Charlie Brown, Charles Schulz, by pointing out that he fought to add a black character to the cast in 1968 to stand against racism. Schulz, who passed away in 2000, reportedly demanded a black character be added to the Charlie Brown cast in 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Schulz was inspired to do so after receiving a letter from a teacher named Harriet Glickman. He wrote back to her, saying, “The more I think of the problem, the more I am convinced that it would be wrong for me to do so [add a black character]. I would be very happy to try, but I am sure that I would receive the sort of criticism that would make it appear as if I were doing this in a condescending manner.” His prophecy has come true.  Franklin was a groundbreaker in his time: a cartoon black face in a sea of cartoon white faces, in a strip drawn by a white cartoonist. However, while each of the other characters are flawed in some way, Franklin is a strong student. He’s a formidable athlete. He’s a supportive friend—just a solid, good soul. Of all the Peanuts characters, Franklin is the most mentally balanced and secure in himself.

Just to defend Charles Schulz a bit more, Schulz was a staff sergeant  during WWII and played a role in liberating the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Nearly 32,000 people died at the camp during its 12 years of operation, and 30,000 survivors were inside the camp at the time of liberation.