The recently unveiled trailer for “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin” marks a significant milestone in addressing the historical racial insensitivity embedded within the 1973 Peanuts classic, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” This latest installment takes deliberate steps to rectify the problematic portrayals of Franklin, a pivotal character in the Peanuts universe, which have lingered for decades. By conscientiously revisiting and reshaping Franklin’s depiction, the creators of “Welcome Home, Franklin” demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, effectively dismantling the racial undertones that have overshadowed the original narrative. This revision not only breathes new life into the beloved franchise but also serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of evolving storytelling to reflect contemporary values of diversity and equality.
After the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Charles M. Schulz took a significant step towards fostering racial inclusivity by introducing Franklin to the Peanuts universe. This decision was prompted by a heartfelt letter from Harriet Glickman, a dedicated school teacher, who encouraged Schulz to diversify his widely adored comic strip as a means to promote racial harmony. Despite initial hesitations, Schulz unveiled Franklin’s character by the following summer, marking a milestone in Peanut’s history. However, the introduction of Franklin was not without its challenges. The syndication company overseeing Peanuts objected to the inclusion of a Black character. In response, Schulz stood firm, threatening to walk away from the cartoon if it was not published according to his vision.
“Franklin is thoughtful and can quote the Old Testament as effectively as Linus. In contrast with the other characters, Franklin has the fewest anxieties and obsessions.” —Charles M. Schulz
The origin story for one of Peanuts’ most beloved characters, Franklin, follows how he approaches making new friends. Franklin’s family is always on the move with his dad’s military job, and everywhere he goes Franklin finds support in a notebook filled with his grandfather’s advice on friendship. But when Franklin tries his usual strategies with the Peanuts gang, he has trouble fitting in. That’s until he learns about the neighborhood Soap Box Derby race. According to his grandfather, everyone loves a winner! He’s sure that winning the race will also mean winning over some new friends. All he needs is a partner, which he finds in Charlie Brown. Franklin and Charlie Brown work together to build a car and in the process become good buddies. But as the race nears, the pressure mounts — can their car and their newfound friendship make it to the finish line?
Oh, you didn’t know: In the early 1990s, Schulz ultimately bestowed upon Franklin a surname, Armstrong, in homage to Robb Armstrong, the creator of the comic strip “JumpStart.” More recently, Peanuts Worldwide initiated the Armstrong Project.