Posted on November 25, 2020

Why This Scene in ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ Prompts Allegations of Racism

Rachel Grumman Bender, Yahoo, November 24, 2020

Charles Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a classic Peanuts special from 1973 that airs during the holidays. But one particular scene has been stirring up controversy in recent years.

In the scene, Franklin, who is the only Black character, is sitting by himself on one side of a Thanksgiving table, while most of the other kids sit together on the other side (Linus is seated at the head of the table). Some people consider the scene problematic and even racist, arguing that 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, tells Yahoo Life: “Having [Franklin] on this long side by himself, you could interpret it that no one wanted to sit next to him.”

Hunt, who remembers “feeling included in ways I hadn’t before” when he first saw Franklin in a Peanuts comic strip, says that Schulz “probably thought he was doing a good thing by including the character at all.” But Hunt says it’s a “classic example” of what can be missed “even when you’re trying to be inclusive.”

“Today this would not be acceptable,” says Hunt. “It really does speak to the need for more inclusive creators and storytellers behind the scenes who produce these images.” He adds: “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.”

But not everyone views the scene as problematic. On Nov. 20, the Charles M. Schulz Museum hosted an online event with Black cartoonists Robb Armstrong, Darrin Bell, Elizabeth Montague and Bianca Xunise during which they discussed the controversy over A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.


Armstrong, who created the comic strip JumpStart, said that he relates to the scene of Franklin sitting by himself based on his experiences at school. But he says that Schulz, who died in 2000, was “not a racist,” calling him his “idol” and “a wonderful human being.” {snip}

The character Franklin first appeared in the Peanuts comic strip on July 31, 1968. A retired teacher named Harriet Glickman convinced Schulz to add a Black character to the strip that year. {snip}