Happy Friday MMT Family! For those who follow us on our social media sites, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, you know we’ve been celebrating #FranklinDay today – which marks the 47th anniversary of the introduction of Charlie Brown’s best friend, Franklin Armstrong, into the beloved Peanuts comic strip. But were you aware of, or even curious, why the Franklin character was introduced? If you answered you’d never thought about it or you just considered it as normal, then you actually have helped confirm the viewpoint of “Franklin’s Mom,” – Harriet Glickman.
You see back in 1968, Ms. Glickman decided to write the late comic creator/writer Charles M. Schulz and convince him to integrate his Peanuts strip. Moved into action by the impact of the civil rights movement, and the recent assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Glickman believed that inserting an African-American character into the Peanuts would assist in changing American viewpoints on race relations. When I met with the retired school teacher earlier this month, at the 2015 NAACP convention, she further shared, “Part of my motivation was that a child like Mar Mar (who voices Franklin in the upcoming Peanuts movie) could pick up a comic strip and see his or herself. And the other part was, I wanted a white child to pick up that strip and say that’s a school and that’s what a school is supposed to look like.”
I asked Ms. Glickman if she were to write a letter today, considering the current racial climate, to the late Mr. Schulz what theme or character might she ask him to introduce. Stating that there has definitely been significant progress, especially with the African-American images that are displayed, Glickman stated,
“More of the same, more of what we’re beginning to see now. Which was not true in the 60’s – you didn’t see the black tv anchor or the lead character in a play who was black. Now, when I look at the LA times comics, there are at least five strips that have a black character. The one that impresses me most is “Stone Soup,” the story of a widowed white woman who has two children, and her boyfriend is black and they’re getting married – and nobody makes anything out of it.”
I also inquired if Glickman experienced any negative reactions or hate mail related to Franklin and although her physical address – to the LA residence where she composed the Schulz letter and still resides to this day – was printed in Nat Gertler’s 2010 compilation The Peanuts Collection: Treasures from the World’s Most Beloved Comic Strip, she advises that she had not experienced any negative incidents. She further stated that, to the contrary, it actually turned out to be a positive that her address was printed, especially when she received a letter from a Cincinnatti, OH police sergeant named William Bell – who was not only inspired by Glickman’s story, but moved to action. While discussing Bell’s letter, Glickman stated, “He wrote that he thought there was always a Franklin, he’d grown up with the character, and his kids had given him (Gertler’s) book for Christmas.”
Glickman shared that Bell was so inspired, he organized a diversity program at the Cincinnati library, where he created Franklin displays and educated children about the character. Bell also urged the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center to create an exhibit based on Franklin’s story. Both Bell and Glickman were honored last year at the subsequent “Social Commentary” exhibit displayed at the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA.
Here are some additional “Fun Facts” about Franklin:
- “Franklin” has been voiced by 19 actors throughout the years. He will be voiced by Mar Mar in THE PEANUTS MOVIE.
- “Franklin” is an EXCELLENT dancer – he is shown breakdancing in several of the show’s specials.
- Ice Hockey is “Franklin’s” favorite sport. He is shown practicing in many of the comic strips.
- “Franklin” is Charlie Brown’s best friend; they met on the beach in his first appearance.
You can next see Franklin in the highly-anticipated 3D animated production THE PEANUTS MOVIE opening on November 6. Watch the trailer below, and get additional info about the movie at the official website here.
Now if you’ve been following me on this site, you know I LOVE THE PEANUTS! I am an avid collector – videos, collectibles, books – so it was an absolute pleasure to sit in front of Ms. Glickman and discuss Franklin, whom she lovingly calls her “fourth child.” I will be the first in line when the new movie opens – and if I can do a giveaway family you will be the first to know!
Until next thought, Thomasena