Santa Rosa, California – Peanuts fans can look forward to a new TV special premiering on Apple TV Plus this month, shedding light on the first Black character in the beloved comic strip. The special, titled “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin,” will delve into the origin story of Franklin Armstrong, a significant milestone in the integration of “Peanuts” during an era of racial segregation.
The trailer for the new special, released last Friday, showcases Franklin’s struggles to fit in after moving to a new neighborhood. The storyline follows Franklin as he endeavors to make new friends and team up with Charlie Brown to compete in the town’s Soap Box Derby race. The special was co-written by Robb Armstrong, Charles M. Schulz’s son and grandson, and “The Peanuts Movie” executive producer Cornelius Uliano.
In a lighthearted moment of the trailer, Franklin’s music taste is explored as he expresses his admiration for James Brown, prompting a humorous response from Charlie Brown. The new special also reimagines a scene from “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” where Franklin was previously depicted in a controversially placed seat at the dinner table. However, in this reimagined version, he is given an upgrade, symbolizing progress in the depiction of the character.
The introduction of Franklin into the “Peanuts” comic universe in 1968 was a result of the efforts of retired teacher Harriet Glickman, who advocated for racial integration in the works of prominent comic artists. Schulz initially hesitated, fearing patronization, but after receiving support from Glickman’s Black friends and standing his ground when questioned by the syndicate, Franklin was printed in papers.
Many viewers of the Franklin special’s trailer lauded the reimagined version as a significant win, particularly during Black History Month. The move to symbolically honor the character, who effectively integrated “Peanuts” at a time of racial segregation, was celebrated on social media. The new special offers an opportunity to not only honor Franklin’s legacy but also to reflect on the strides made in the portrayal of diverse characters in popular media.