A seasonal episode of Charlie Brown has caused controversy, with viewers new and old noticing something amiss with the seating arrangement at the Thanksgiving feast.
The scene which has drawn such attention shows Charlie Brown, Sally, Peppermint Patty and dog Snoopy sitting at one side of a table, with Marcie sitting at the head of the table.
The only black character, Franklin, is shown to be sitting all by himself on the other side of the table. He can also be seen sitting in a lawn chair rather than a regular chair like the rest of the characters.
One person tweeted:
Let’s talk about Franklin. Dude gets invited to Charlie Brown’s by Peppermint Patty. Then he finds out that it wasn’t a real invite, a dog is cooking the food and he’s gotta sit by himself at dinner. That’s Get Out.
Not watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving anymore, until they sit some people on the same side of the table as Franklin.
Journalist Jeremy Helligar wrote in Medium:
While I don’t read any racism into the Peanuts specials of the time, the ’70s was indeed an era of racial, and sometimes egregiously racist, TV humor.
Lately, I’ve been watching old episodes of the classic sitcoms All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons (an All in the Family spin-off) on YouTube, and I’m frequently astonished by the racist comments that Archie Bunker, a white bigot, and Fred Sanford and George Jefferson, both black bigots, got away with spewing.
I didn’t see anything else other than good friends being together.
— nathan woodall (@nathanwoodall1) November 23, 2018
At first glance one might take offense to the picture , but knowing and understanding Charles Schulz’s life, I personally do not feel it is offensive. Again, just my opinion. 😊
— Cricket Melendez (@Cricket5042) November 23, 2018
When Charles Schultz introduced Franklin, several newspapers across the country threatened to shut down the Peanuts comic. His response was essentially so what. Frankly I never noticed that Franklin was by himself at the table. That disturbs me
— Maryalice (@Maryali81887888) November 23, 2018
I love Charlie Brown, but come on why wld he have the best seat in at the table? If any of us were at a dinner party and this was how the seating went down it be at the least weird af! There's a reason the artist did that!
— Rahsaan Ephriam (@naashar2002) November 23, 2018
Yes it is a cartoon. A beloved one at that. Now a days we look deeper into things we would've never thought to. That's the only way we learn. When I was a little girl I thought why is he alone. Questions are important.
— Aussie (@sweetieelaine2) November 24, 2018
Franklin was introduced to the world of Peanuts in 1968, becoming the very first black character in the iconic comic strip.
As reported by The Washington Post, Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz was motivated to introduce a black character following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
This came about after retired teacher Harriet Glickman reportedly wrote Schulz a letter urging him to make his comic more inclusive:
Since the death of Martin Luther King, I’ve been asking myself what I can do to help change those conditions in our society which led to the assassination and which contribute to the vast sea of misunderstanding, fear, hate and violence.
As a suburban housewife; the mother of three children and a deeply concerned and social citizen, I am well aware of the very long and torturous road ahead.
I believe that it will be another generation before the kind of open friendship, trust and mobility will be an accepted part of our lives.
When asked by Peanuts’ publisher, United Feature Syndicate, if he was certain about adding a black character, Schulz reportedly replied, ‘Either you run it the way I drew it, or I quit’.
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving aired in 1973. People interpret this scene differently. Some say it's offensive, some say Franklin has the best seat at the table. How do you see it? pic.twitter.com/LeH2NxNjul
— Trevor Donovan (@TrevDon) November 23, 2018
Charlie Brown is some racist shit. #CharlieBrownThanksgiving
— The Shane (@Housecutie) November 22, 2018
Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving was accused of being racist because of the seating arrangement ..
What do you guys think ? pic.twitter.com/3xmdcVWnjQ
— هـلا (@hala_aljeri) November 24, 2018
This is funny to me…. Charlie Brown is sitting with his family (sister and Dog) and the girl that been crushing on him for years. Everyone else is sitting alone not a racist thing there if people get out of their own heads. Smh everything isn’t a woke moment…
— Jasmine (@ladyjay207) November 22, 2018
Ah, #Thanksgiving time… that special time of year where we give thanks, eat big meals, catch up with family and friends… and reuse that meme joke about how Franklin is on his own side of the table in the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. pic.twitter.com/iMuhN6IWbs
— Wreck-It Andre (@BlackNerd) November 21, 2018
What do you think about this scene? And do you think it would have been drawn differently today?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.