Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip remains one of pop culture’s most enduring fixtures, with the cartoonist providing daily and weekly illustrations of Charlie Brown and the gang for nearly five decades.
In the ’60’s, Schulz integrated his comic by introducing its first Black character, Franklin, after a thoughtful letter from a reader. In 1968, shortly after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white woman, wrote Schulz and asked him to consider adding a Black character.
In an exchange of letters, Schulz was reluctant to do so as he didn’t wish to seem like he was patronizing Black people. Glickman was persistent, and shared her exchanges with Black friends to get their input. Glickman continued with her attempts until Schulz finally had a change of heart. Schulz alerted Glickman in a letter to read the strip during the week of July 29.
On July 31, 1968, Franklin and Peanuts protagonist Charlie Brown meet for the first time on a beach. Their conversation was typical for school-age boys, discussing what their fathers did for a living and small talk about sand castles. Franklin mentioned that his father was off fighting in the Vietnam War, a significant thing to highlight as the war was the first to feature a fully integrated military. In the end of the series of introductory strips, Charlie Brown invites Franklin for a sleepover and more play.