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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."
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How the first black 'Peanuts' character was born

12626 Folder Collection
lala published on May 28, 2019    Liang Chen translated    jasmine reviewed
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