PEANUTS: Franklin on the Lawn Chair
This is a shortened version of an article I did (quite a while ago) on the black character in ‘Peanuts’: Franklin. If any one is interested [halloooo…anyone out there reading my blog?! – contact me for the ‘full version’) 🙂
With regards to the pic below: I am not sure whether I am infringing any copyright laws! This is a photo of one of my colouring books I got when I was little. I still guard this, and others, with my life! Let me know if I am not suppose to have this pic up, and I will take it off immediately (don’t want to sleep in jail for the sake of PEANUTS Snoopy I love you, but not THAT much!)
FRANKLIN ON THE LAWN CHAIR: A CRITICAL READING OF THE BLACK CHARACTER FRANKLIN IN CHARLES M SCHULZ’s PEANUTS.
On July 31st 1968, the character Franklin makes his first appearance in Charles M. Schulz’ Peanuts. Usually shown in school with Marcie and Peppermint Patty, on the baseball field as center-fielder on Peppermint Patty’s baseball team or engaged in deep conversations with Charlie Brown (both liked to talk about their grandfathers) or Linus (both of them quoted from the Old Testament), Franklin is first introduced in a beach scene with Charlie Brown:
Schulz insisted that there was no political motivation behind Franklin’s introduction (Bowles). Yet the presence of Franklin in Peanuts poses a refreshing challenge to racial discrimination in America at the time. Besides contradicting the stereotypical ‘black people can’t swim’ belief, the first strip in which Franklin appears also contradicts the reality of black people’s absence on public beaches in America at the time of the strip’s publication (Lehman) (more in full article). Thus, by being on the beach, and of course by swimming, Franklin becomes an antithesis to the African-American accepted by many white Americans (more examples in full article).
The following strip from the beach-series in which Franklin first appears is also loaded with ‘race meanings’:
Whilst African-Americans like Franklin’s family were struggling at the time against race discrimination in the US, they had to fight in the Vietnam War (America’s first racially integrated conflict) on the side of a country that would not treat them as citizens. According to Lehman, Africa-Americans (and this is also true of working class whites at the time) served as infantrymen in Vietnam far beyond their relative percentages in the American population. Many black people were also opposed to the Vietnam War for the reason that it took the attention away from the Civil Rights Movement making way at the time (Vietnam). The above-given information considered, Franklin’s dad being “over in Vietnam”, is thus probably not an unloaded fact provided by Schulz. [Another ‘loaded’ strip is a 1969 one in which Franklin says to Peppermint Patty: “Any rule that makes a little girl cry has to be a bad rule.” (more in full article)
On the other hand, many people have argued Schulz’s racist attitudes by referring to a notorious scene from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: Charlie Brown’s friends arrive for a thanksgiving celebration and as all get seated, the only chair left for Franklin is a broken lawn chair (see link below) (Lifejournal). Not only that, but Franklin sits alone on one side of the table… An upset reader argues that “Even Snoopy gets to sit in the Whites-Only section, but poor Franklin sits alone” (Lifejournal)…