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  • Franklin, one of the iconic characters from Peanuts, turns 50.

  • He's not as famous as Charlie Brown, Lucy or Snoopy, but he is the first black character in the Peanuts gang.

  • And his origin story begins during a polarizing time.

  • Peanuts was created during the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s.

  • During that time, the Brown v. Board of Education decision desegregated schools, activists sat-in and protested for equal rights and, in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

  • Days after King's death, Harriet Glickman, a frustrated retired school teacher, wrote to Schulz asking him to incorporate a black character into his comics.

  • "My little letter was nothing compared to the little girl who was stood in the doorway to integrate a school with crowds of people spitting at her and throwing things at her."

  • In a letter Glickman suggested, the introduction of Negro children into the group of Schulz characters could happen with a minimum impact.

  • Schulz wrote back saying he liked the idea but didn't know how to go about it as a white cartoonist.

  • He didn't want to appear patronizing.

  • In 1999, Schulz described his struggles with creating the character.

  • "I wasn't sure I can do it frankly."

  • "I don't know what it's like to grow up as a black kid."

  • "I only know what it's like to grow up as a barber's son in Saint Paul."

  • According to Glickman, she asked a few of her African American friends to write back to Schulz to give him a few suggestions.

  • "But I got two letters from fathers who said, we understand your problem, but try it anyway, just go ahead and try it."

  • He did try it.

  • Franklin was created July 31, 1968.

  • This is Franklin's first comic strip appearance, when he first meets Charlie Brown.

  • After publications, Schulz said an editor from the South protested because he drew Franklin sitting next to Peppermint Patty in class.

  • Others wanted Schulz to get rid of the character completely, but Schulz said, "Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit."

  • Peanuts comic strip ran until 2000 when Schulz died.

  • "He did it."

  • In that time, Peanuts was published in more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and translated to 21 languages.

  • It has reached more than 300 million people around the world.

  • "No dogs."

  • "This has gone long enough, drop the curtain."

Franklin, one of the iconic characters from Peanuts, turns 50.

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