February 22, 2024

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Franklin, the first black character on Peanuts, will have a TV special

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

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

In a hilarious part of the trailer, Charlie asks Franklin about his music taste, to which Franklin rants about James Brown: “You're not related to him, are you?” Franklin asks, comparing James Brown's face to Charlie's.

The special was co-written by Rob Armstrong — the creator of “JumpStart” that inspired Franklin's title — along with Charles M. Schulz's son and grandson — Craig and Brian Schulz, respectively — and “The Peanuts Movie” executive producer Cornelius Uliano.

With “Peanuts” characters once again animated, one particular moment from the special's trailer struck a chord with comic book fans. Franklin once again settled into a controversially placed chair, but this time he got an upgrade.

“Hey Franklin! We've got you a seat here!” Linus says, pointing to the empty seat between him and Charlie Brown on the other side of the table.

Some viewers of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving have criticized Franklin's place in the dinner scene in recent years, posting on social media that it's unfair for the character to sit alone at a long side of the table in a lawn chair while his white friends sit. Together on the other sides of the table on sturdier chairs.

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said Robin Reed, who voiced Franklin in the 1973 animated film MSNBC In 2021, although his character's seat placement has recently sparked controversy, this was not the focus when it first aired.

“It's very easy to get offended or upset,” he said. “But we have to remember that at the time, it was already progress.”

Many who commented on the trailer for Franklin said they considered the reimagined version a win, especially during Black History Month. The fans applauded Franklin New chair on social media, noting how the move symbolically honored the character Incorporating “Peanuts” in an era when racial segregation was still present common.

Franklin was introduced to the world of “Peanuts” comics in 1968, after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led retired teacher Harriet Glickman to demand that Charles Schulz and other prominent comic book artists racially integrate their works.

Schultz initially told Glickman in a letter that he was hesitant because he did not want to appear to patronize black people. But after support from Glickman's friends, who were black parents, and after Schultz stood up when questioned by the union, Franklin was printed in newspapers. In his first appearance, which was also recreated in the “Welcome Home, Franklin” trailer, he returns Charlie Brown's beach ball to him.