New ‘Peanuts’ special will finally let Franklin sit by White friends


Franklin’s isolated seat at the dinner table in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” riled viewers of the classic that aired 50 years ago. But a new TV special coming out this month about the first Black “Peanuts” character literally gives him a better seat at the table.

“Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin,” premiering Feb. 16 on Apple TV Plus, will focus on Franklin’s origin story. The trailer, released Friday, shows that after moving to a new neighborhood, Franklin Armstrong initially struggles to fit in, with kids passing him by as he tries to strike up conversations. He vows to make new friends and win the town’s Soap Box Derby race with his partner, Charlie Brown.

In a lighthearted part of trailer, Charlie asks Franklin about his music taste, to which Franklin gushes about James Brown: “You’re not related, are you?” Franklin asks, comparing James Brown’s face to Charlie’s.

The special was co-written by Robb Armstrong — the “JumpStart” creator who inspired Franklin’s surname — along with Charles M. Schulz’s son and grandson — Craig and Bryan Schulz, respectively — and “The Peanuts Movie” executive producer Cornelius Uliano.

With the “Peanuts” characters animated once again, one particular moment of the special’s trailer struck a chord with fans of the comic strip. Franklin is again settled in a controversially placed chair — but this time, he’s given an upgrade.

“Hey Franklin! We saved you a seat over here!” Linus says, referring to an empty seat between him and Charlie Brown on the opposite side of the table.

Some viewers of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” criticized Franklin’s spot in its dinner scene in recent years, posting on social media that it was unfair for the character to sit alone on a long side of the table in a lawn chair while his White friends sat together on the other sides of the table in sturdier chairs.

Robin Reed, who voiced Franklin in the 1973 animation, told MSNBC in 2021 that despite his character’s seat position drumming up controversy more recently, that wasn’t the focus when it was first aired.

“It’s so very easy to get offended or upset,” he said. “But we have to remember that at that time, that actually represented progress.”

Many who commented on the Franklin special’s trailer said they considered the reimagined version to be a win, especially during Black History Month. Fans applauded Franklin’s new chair on social media, noting how the move symbolically honored the character that effectively integrated “Peanuts” in an era where racial segregation was still commonplace.

Franklin was introduced into the “Peanuts” comic universe in 1968, after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spurred retired teacher Harriet Glickman to ask Charles Schulz and other prominent comic artists to racially integrate their work.

Schulz initially told Glickman in a letter he was hesitant because he didn’t want to come off as patronizing to Black people. But after support from Glickman’s friends, who were Black parents, and after Schulz stood his ground when questioned by the syndicate, Franklin was printed in papers. In his first appearance, which is also recreated in the “Welcome Home, Franklin” trailer, he hands Charlie Brown’s beach ball back to him.





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