‘Peanuts’ First Black Character Franklin Gets His Own Special
Apple TV+ released the official trailer for Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin. The story follows Franklin Armstrong as he moves to a new town and struggles to fit in and meet friends. In the short trailer, Franklin starts conversations with other children, only to be ignored after each attempt. The character soon learns about a neighborhood Soap Box Derby race and figures that winning the competition would help him gain friends.
The trailer also shows where Charlie Brown and Franklin first meet and the moments leading up to the race. The pair becomes partners and try to win the race together.
Background of Franklin’s Character
Many were introduced to Franklin’s character more than 50 years ago. Until now, very little was known about his backstory. CBS News reported that Franklin joining the “Peanuts” cast happened after retired teacher Harriet Glickman pushed the cartoon’s creator Charles Schulz and other comic artists to integrate their work and include Black characters after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. Franklin first appeared in the comic strip for the first time in July of that same year.
In David J. Bradley’s “The Dark Truth of Peanuts” YouTube video, he dives into the controversies of the cartoon comic. He mentions (at around the 1:42:00 mark) that Franklin appeared at a time when the Civil Rights Movement still had so much of a battle on their hands and that there was some racist backlash to his introduction. Apparently, many newspapers pulled the short, and Schulz was sent many threatening letters. Additionally, he said that in the comic Franklin only appears 11 times from 1975 to 1982.
Recently, some viewers criticized the treatment of Franklin’s character in the cartoon’s holiday special. In the show, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, there is a dinner scene where Franklin sits alone, in a beach chair, at a dinner table on the opposite side of his white friends who are all sitting in wooden chairs. Many viewers pointed out the separation of the characters and took to social media to call out the differences.
In 2021, the voice behind Franklin in that 1973 holiday special, Robin Reed, spoke with MSNBC about the criticized special. “It’s so very easy to get offended or upset,” Reed said in an interview. “But we have to remember that at that time, that actually represented progress.”
In the upcoming film centered around Franklin’s origin story, the trailer shows that scene revisited. The “Peanuts” group of friends invited Franklin to sit and eat with them.
After checking out the trailer, viewers shared their thoughts on social media. And for the most part, the comments seem to be quite positive. One person wrote, “Franklin finally gets a proper seat at the table 56 years later. This is how you take steps to right wrongs.” Another person said, “They came through with a special for Franklin. That’s how you honor a Black Peanuts character!”
Emmy Award winner Raymond S. Persi directed the film, while Robb Armstrong and Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz and Cornelius Uliano, co-wrote the special from an original story by Armstrong and Scott Montgomery. Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Uliano, Paige Braddock, Josh Scherba, Stephanie Betts, and Logan McPherson executive produce the animation.
“Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin” premieres on Apple TV+ on Feb.16. Take a look at the official trailer below.