The classic 1973 Peanuts special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving that airs annually during the holidays has stirred up a bit of controversy in recent years, thanks to one particular scene that could be construed as racist.
Created by Charles Schulz, the conflicting scene shows the only Black character, Franklin, is sitting by himself on one side of the Thanksgiving table. While Charlie Brown, Sally, Peppermint Patty, and Snoopy, all sit together on the opposite side of the table. Some have critiqued this scene, considering it problematic, even arguing that it could be racist since Franklin is separated from the rest of the characters, who are white.
Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences and professor of sociology and African American studies at UCLA spoke with Yahoo Life, and said that “having [Franklin] on this long side by himself, you could interpret it that no one wanted to sit next to him.”
“Today this would not be acceptable,” Hunt continues speaking about the comic. “It really does speak to the need for more inclusive creators and storytellers behind the scenes who produce these images.”
Adding: “That’s why it’s so important to have people in the writers’ room and in production who might be more sensitive to these issues.”
However, not everyone believes that the scene bleeds racism and on Friday (Nov. 20) the Charles M. Schulz Museum hosted an online event with Black cartoonist Robb Armstrong, Darrin Bell, Elizabeth Montague and Bianca Xunise where they discussed the conflicting scene in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
“When I saw that image [of Franklin], my first thought was Charles Schulz really wanted Franklin to be seen and Franklin was really important,” said Bell, a Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning. He explained that Peanuts was looked to be a “kind” and “inclusive” comic strip.
Armstrong, the creator of the comic strip JumpStart, says that Schulz, who died in 2000 was “not a racist.