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Why Charles M. Schulz Gave Peanuts A Black Character (1968)

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People I like can be divided into two groups: a) those who enjoy and get Charles M. Schulz’s wonderful Peanuts comic strip; b) those fools who don’t. All of human life is in the artist and writer’s 17,897 comic strips.

In 1968 Schulz noticed the Civil Rights movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and read a letter from Los Angeles schoolteacher Harriet Glickman. She had a question for Schulz: would he include a black child in the Peanuts gang?


Charles M Schulz Franklin letter civil rights

The 1st comic strip featuring Franklin


Mrs. Glickman wrote:

Dear Mr. Schulz,

Since the death of Martin Luther King, I’ve been asking myself what I can do to help change those conditions in our society which led to the assassination and which contribute to the vast sea of misunderstanding, fear, hate and violence.

As a suburban housewife; the mother of three children and a deeply concerned and active citizen, I am well aware of the very long and tortuous road ahead. I believe that it will be another generation before the kind of open friendship, trust and mobility will be an accepted part of our lives.

In thinking over the areas of the mass media which are of tremendous importance in shaping the unconscious attitudes of our kids, I felt that something could be done through our comic strips, and even in that violent jungle of horrors known as Children’s Television.

You need no reassurances from me that Peanuts is one of the most adored, well-read and quoted parts of our literate society. In our family, teen-age Kathy has posters and sweat shirts … pencil holders and autograph books. Paul, who’s ten and our Charlie Brown Little Leaguer … has memorized every paper back book … has stationery, calendars, wall hangings and a Snoopy pillow. Three and a half year old Simon has his own Snoopy which lives, loves, eats, paints, digs, bathes and sleeps with him. My husband and I keep pertinent Peanuts cartoons on desks and bulletin boards as guards against pomposity. You see … we are a totally Peanuts-oriented family.

It occurred to me today that the introduction of Negro children into the group of Schulz characters could happen with a minimum of impact. The gentleness of the kids … even Lucy, is a perfect setting. The baseball games, kite-flying … yea, even the Psychiatric Service cum Lemonade Stand would accommodate the idea smoothly.

Sitting alone in California suburbia makes it all seem so easy and logical. I’m sure one doesn’t make radical changes in so important an institution without a lot of shock waves from syndicates, clients, etc. You have, however, a stature and reputation which can withstand a great deal.

Lastly; should you consider this suggestion, I hope that the result will be more than one black child… Let them be as adorable as the others … but please … allow them a Lucy!


Harriet Glickman


franklin letter peanuts



Schulz replied, expressing a fear that the sudden appearance of a black child would make him seem clumsy and patronising.


Charles M Schulz Franklin letter civil rights


Mrs. Glickman responded:

Dear Mr. Schulz,

I appreciate your taking the time to answer my letter about Negro children in Peanuts.

You present an interesting dilemma. I would like your permission to use your letter to show some Negro friends. Their responses as parents may prove useful to you in your thinking on this subject.


Harriet Glickman


Strip 2

Strip 2


True to her word, Mrs Glickman showed the letter to others. Kenneth C. Kelly, one of Mrs. Glickman’s ‘Negro friends’, saw the missive and wrote to the artist:

Dear Mr. Schulz:

With regards to your correspondence with Mrs. Glickman on the subject of including Negro kids in the fabric of Peanuts, I’d like to express an opinion as a Negro father of two young boys. You mention a fear of being patronizing. Though I doubt that any Negro would view your efforts that way, I’d like to suggest that an accusation of being patronizing would be a small price to pay for the positive results that would accrue!

We have a situation in America in which racial enmity is constantly portrayed. The inclusion of a Negro supernumerary in some of the group scenes in Peanuts would do two important things. Firstly, it would ease my problem of having my kids seeing themselves pictured in the overall American scene. Secondly, it would suggest racial amity in a casual day-to-day sense.

I deliberately suggest a supernumerary role for a Negro character. The inclusion of a Negro in your occasional group scenes would quietly and unobtrusively set the stage for a principal character at a later date, should the basis for such a principal develop.

We have too long used Negro supernumeraries in such unhappy situations as a movie prison scene, while excluding Negro supernumeraries in quiet and normal scenes of people just living, loving, worrying, entering a hotel, the lobby of an office building, a downtown New York City street scene. There are insidious negative effects in these practices of the movie industry, TV industry, magazine publishing, and syndicated cartoons.



Schulz sent Mrs. Glickman a personal note:


Charles M Schulz Franklin letter civil rights


Franklin was in the gang.





But would his publishers go for it? Would the readers?

In the 1980s, Schulz recalled the fight to feature Franklin:

“There was one strip where Charlie Brown and Franklin had been playing on the beach, and Franklin said, ‘Well, it’s been nice being with you, come on over to my house some time. [My editors] didn’t like that. Another editor protested once when Franklin was sitting in the same row of school desks with Peppermint Patty, and said, ‘We have enough trouble here in the South without you showing the kids together in school.’ But I never paid any attention to those things, and I remember telling [United Features president] Larry [Rutman] at the time about Franklin—he wanted me to change it, and we talked about it for a long while on the phone, and I finally sighed and said, ‘Well, Larry, let’s put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How’s that?’ So that’s the way that ended….

“People say, ‘Don’t you ever deal in social issues?’ ‘Well, don’t you read the strip?’ If you read the strip every day, you’ll see that I deal with more social issues in one month than some of these deal [with] in a whole year. But you have to be a little more sensitive to it.”



  • AlanOne7

    Outstanding post.

    Regrettably, patronizing appears to have been ingrained in our culture now. Almost nowhere in the US in 2015 do we see an all-white group anywhere in mass media. Virtually every movie, TV show, video game, comic book, etc must feature certain demographics of characters who would be hard-pressed to be friends in real life. (Watch current action films and notice how teenage street gangs are invariably integrated, and how you almost never see a black guy attack a white woman.) Remember the Burger King Kid’s Club of the early 1990s? A black kid, an hispanic kid, two girls, two white boys … and a kid in a wheelchair. Too many other examples to list, but you see my point. Shoe-horning characters into media to appease XYZ demographics is insulting. Charles Schultz could’ve introduced Franklin on his own time, because it wasn’t his fault he had written himself into a corner since he started the strip 18 years earlier.


    • The Duchess of Milton

      What is the basis of your need to see and “all-white group anywhere in mass media,” Alan? Unless they live in a white supremacists compound, why would they be “hard pressed to be friends in real life?” I fear that you reveal much more about your own prejudices in your letter than you probably imagine.

    • Squeaky Dolphin

      It’s amazing how people afforded a lifetime of white privilege still cry that things aren’t “white” enough to suit them. SO much so, that they can actually tell themselves that THEY are being served an injustice by having to see people who aren’t white everywhere.

      • Diashawn

        Actually, I agree with the original poster. You don’t need a diverse cast of characters, you just need characters that people will love; regardless of skin color.
        I, really can careless if I see a black guy in a movie or TV show. Because it’s not the writer job to have a black character, they have a decision.

        • ooknabah

          Yeah, so you’re absolutely white.

          • Diashawn

            Actually, I’m black. Yeah, you’re absolutely stupid.

            Do you have problem with having all-white characters?

          • ooknabah

            I have a problem with entertainment not reflecting the demographics of the world that we live in. If I’m watching a show about Swedes in the middle ages, I don’t have any issue with an all white cast, but most of modern media casts white as default. TV, movies, video games even theatre defaults to white, because most of those creators are white or are beholden to white people who are making business decisions.

            It was presumptuous of me to think that as a person of colour you might want to see characters (yes, characters that people will love!) reflecting the world you live in in the media that you consume. Tokenism can be awkward and stilted, yes, and we want our creators to move past that, but it is frequently the first step in transitioning to a fuller and more representative media.

          • Diashawn

            No, it wasn’t presumptuous of you to think that.
            I do care about representation in the media. I would like to see more representation behind the scenes.
            I would like to see more black writers take a bigger role in what is being shown on television.
            We want to see them on the screen, what about behind the scenes? Making that next episode of Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead, Scandal, etc.

            I would like to see more black fantasy and sci-fi writers, which are my two favorite genres.

            Actors are actors, most of the time, they aren’t in control.

          • kga

            Diashawn, are you following the Octavia’s Brood actvities in science fiction? They are part of a fascinating international Afrofuturism movement.

          • Diashawn

            I haven’t read any her books or any other Afrofuturism book. I would like to read them. I have nothing but praise about Octavia Butlers stories.

    • Michele

      I was born in 1962, and I grew up in an extremely racially diverse environment. Franklin and Charlie Brown playing together were completely normal to me. I don’t find it patronizing at all to see a group of diverse kids. My kids have gone to school with black and bi-racial friends, and friends in wheelchairs too. My son helped his friend in a wheelchair get to and from classes in high school. I think it’s very sad that you think that this is not normal. I live in a small town in Missouri BTW, not a place people think of as being tolerant, but in reality most here get along great with all people.

    • TravisTechDemo

      I think you miss the point. Read the letter that a black father wrote in 1968. He only saw black people in movie jail scenes, not often reflected in normal American life. He felt his children were suffering by having zero positive media examples of normal, everday American black people. Various studies agree with him.

      • Jackson

        Jail is normal American life.

    • stardreamer42

      The reason we need diversity in media is people like you.

      • Jackson

        The reason everything is so screwed up is people like you.

    • AlanOne7

      Thanks for the feedback. I think most of you are missing my point. I don’t recall seeing Franklin being well-read like Linus, having a dominating personality like Lucy, being musically inclined like Schroeder, or having the fantasy life of Snoopy. Franklin is simply The Token Black Kid. He has no defined personality, and lends nothing else to the strip.

      Schultz created tomboy Peppermint Patty at about this same time. Patty excels at sports, loves adventure, hates school, is close to her Dad, has no Mom, and may have a crush on Charlie Brown. She was perhaps the most “real” character in the strip. Schultz did none of that with Franklin. I wish Schultz would’ve made Franklin, say, the politically-minded kid, since his Dad is serving in Vietman and all. But he didn’t. Watch the animated cartoons and see if Franklin says or does anything important. Schultz simply dropped in A Token Black Kid into the strip – with no character development and nothing to do – and called it a day. THAT is what’s insulting and patronizing.

      I don’t have a problem with multi-racial casts, when each individual has a defined personality and plausible backstory. I have a problem with shoe-horning characters into media to appease XYZ demographics.

      • dirne

        Today, perhaps that sort of ‘tokenism’ would be a concern and a discussion worth having (re: the introduction of a Black character with little characterization outside of their being a person of African descent). But at the time of Franklin’s inception, the mere fact of his existence in a comic strip was not a 1:1 with the other (White) children, not from a media representation standpoint.

        Today, of course, it would go without saying that a character need be more than their ethnic background. But isn’t it somewhat evident from the reaction of the UF President at the time of Franklin’s introduction that the mere inclusion of such a character with such an ethnic background was far more than a simple matter of “appeasing XYZ demographics”? In fact, status quo what it was, there was no interest in SEEING such demographics represented at all, except under narrow and negative circumstances (the aforementioned jail cast ensembles).

        Need Franklin’s defining character trait (and I’m taking your word on this) have been mutually exclusive with other non-physical traits? Probably not, which is a bit of a shame. But to brush him off as “appeasing a demographic” does a disservice to what Schultz was actually doing in including his character. He was not kowtowing to the demands for greater political correctness (a concept I can’t imagine was very prevalent at the time)–he was demonstrating a possibility. That a ragtag group of racially integrated kids could be friends with each other, without question. This is an idea we can take for granted now, with the benefit of cultural growth and years of civil rights to look back on and, notably, decades of popular entertainment (children’s in particular) reinforcing that very idea as a given. But in Schultz’ time, it was not.

        Having a problem with ‘shoe-horning’ characters into media to appease demographics is a beef you may have with modern creators, who have those decades of progress to thank for racial diversity becoming a normal and accepted facet of modern life and media. With Schultz in his day and the cultural revolution they were still going through at the time of Franklin’s creation? Maybe not so much.

      • Muad’dib

        I understand your point, but, having read the article, I think it is safe to say that there was no XYZ Demographics involved. A white woman wanted the inclusion, Schulz wasn’t sure how it would work, a black man gave Schulz his thoughts and Schulz decided to do it. ONE person does not count as a Demographic.

        Also, while Franklin may NOT have defined personality, he represented hope and change in a time where neither were certain. Plus, I can think of quite a few of the other Peanuts characters that have no defined personality: Violet, Patty, Shermy, Frieda, etc.

        Finally, there is only ONE Token Black kid and, oddly enough, his name IS Token Black.

      • Diashawn

        I think that was Franklin purpose, he was just the normal one in the group.

        Schultz did also say that he didn’t want to create a black character because it seemed patronizing. So for him, Franklin being normal was the best he could’ve done.

      • This article quotes Schultz from an earlier article. Here’s the rest of what he had to say about Franklin in that earlier interview:

        “But I’ve never done much with Franklin, because I don’t do race things. I’m not an expert on race, I don’t know what it’s like to grow up as a little black boy, and I don’t think you should draw things unless you really understand them, unless you’re just out to stir things up or to try to teach people different things. I’m not in this business to instruct; I’m just in it to be funny. Now and then I may instruct a few things, but I’m not out to grind a lot of axes. Let somebody else do it who’s an expert on that, not me.”

    • Ralph

      I’m not hard pressed to find diverse groups in my real life, but I suppose that is a function of where you choose to live and who you choose to spend time with. I’m white, my wife is Japanese, the couple next door are Indian and Chinese, next to them the family is black, on the other side is a Cuban-American woman married to a Jewish guy, next to them is an Irish Catholic woman married to a Jewish guy, and at the end of the street a Palistinian family recently moved in. Some of our friends include a Moroccan family, and French/Korean family, and a Black/White family. I’m hard pressed to find segregated groups of people in my town, and I like it that way.

    • Lawrence Fletcher

      Alan, I sympathize with your point. First let me say, I do believe that people ought to have the Right to create whatever they want as… “Freedom of Expression”. Ultimately, the consumer will determine the success of their work, by how they engage with it. Nevertheless, regarding your point, the word “Shoehorned” implies forced. He made his decision logically, and methodically, and not forced. Artist make adjustments to their work all the time. Interjecting (or shoehorning) new ideas is a common and acceptable practice among us artist. Also, editors requesting, or extracting content, as Shultz as expressly written above, is also common place. Modifying ones work, for various reason, is apart of the growth of an artist.

      It seems that when addressing social issues like racism, and the lack of diversity, some take the position to “take ones time”, “Don’t rock the boat”, “No need to move to fast”. Those are convenient if your not the people being left out.
      By waiting, and not having a more racially balanced cast (that reflects America as a whole), because it will upset a few people, might considered by some as pandering. I would think pandering is not as desirable a behavior as being patronizing.

      I don’t think it’s regrettable that Shultz took the encouragement from a devoted fan. It’s seems to me to be another reflection of his good character. He said he was thinking about doing it, may be this want simply motivation.

      Thank you for your thoughts. Be well.


    • alkh3myst

      Oh, so to feature a story made up of the actual population of the USA is “patronizing”, hmm? You want for television and movies to return to having white America ignore everybody else? I feel your pain. Say, does your Klavern need their sheets laundered and pressed? I can recommend a fine service.

    • Jared Towler

      Do you know one place where you see all white and almost never any people of color? Gun magazines.

    • EileenKCarpenterMD

      When white people are equally likely to be regular viewers of movies and TV shows with all-Black casts, when a producer is equally likely to get funding for a show with an all-Black cast, then we can have a conversation about how artificial it is to have casts that are calculated to be representative of overall US demographics.

  • Diashawn

    “Dear Mr. Schulz:

    With regards to your correspondence with Mrs. Glickman on the subject of including Negro kids in the fabric of Peanuts, I’d like to express an opinion as a Negro father of two young boys. You mention a fear of being patronizing. Though I doubt that any Negro would view your efforts that way, I’d like to suggest that an accusation of being patronizing would be a small price to pay for the positive results that would accrue!

    We have a situation in America in which racial enmity is constantly portrayed. The inclusion of a Negro supernumerary in some of the group scenes in Peanuts would do two important things. Firstly, it would ease my problem of having my kids seeing themselves pictured in the overall American scene. Secondly, it would suggest racial amity in a casual day-to-day sense.

    I deliberately suggest a supernumerary role for a Negro character. The inclusion of a Negro in your occasional group scenes would quietly and unobtrusively set the stage for a principal character at a later date, should the basis for such a principal develop.

    We have too long used Negro supernumeraries in such unhappy situations as a movie prison scene, while excluding Negro supernumeraries in quiet and normal scenes of people just living, loving, worrying, entering a hotel, the lobby of an office building, a downtown New York City street scene. There are insidious negative effects in these practices of the movie industry, TV industry, magazine publishing, and syndicated cartoons.



    Just imagine, a movie about a black family that is just like “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!” Or maybe “Air Bud”.
    I’d like to see more movies like that.
    I’d love to see another “Cosby Show”, though I’m not a fan. Right now, with crap like Tyler Perry and “Think Like a Man”. We’re never going to progress.

    • Muad’dib

      Hollywood needs to do is stop glorifying the bad aspects and stereotypes in ALL cultures and get back to making movies that have values that mirror the values from the Snoopy comic strips and movies. Hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas.

      • Diashawn

        One day, hopefully one day.
        Have you and yours have a Merry Christmas as well.

    • Sarah M

      Blackish is really cute and funny.

      • Gene Christianson

        Yes! And sometimes, pretty edgy. It’s fun.

      • Erronthesideofcaution

        Blackish is great. Also, Fresh Off the Boat, about a Chinese-American family. Too often, Asian characters are portrayed as boring nerds, but the kid on that show is a rapper.

    • NaphiSoc

      great comments and suggestions.

      I had a great black friend in high school who went on to West Point and is serving in Afghanistan now. It really takes just one great friendship like that to just blast away at any prejudice. It is to me just bizarre how the right wing nut cases became unglued on a black character in the upcoming Star Wars movie. Like what the heck.

      It is to the advantage of America for us all to get along.

      • Diashawn

        Well, I mean Samuel L. Jackson was in the films.
        Now they have a black actor taking a lead role. I see no problem with it, I just hope his character is good.

      • Max Kennedy

        Lando Calrissian in the original movies was black.

  • Brian Katcher

    One of the funniest story arcs was when Franklin visited Charlie Brown for the first time. Charlie wasn’t home, so Franklin spent his time at Lucy’s psychiatrist booth, watching Snoopy fight the Red Baron, and hearing Linus tell about the Great Pumpkin. When Charlie Brown arrived, he tried to convince Franklin his friends were really quite normal, only to have Schroeder show up and remind them that it was almost Beethoven’s birthday.

  • Johnny Royale

    Is it Glickman or Glukman?

  • David Asher

    I like to take a moment to point out how eloquent the writers of these letters were. Their use of complete sentences with impeccable grammar and on-point vocabulary (‘supernumerary’, ‘unobtrusively’, ‘pertinent’, etc.) is a stunning contrast to what you see written on social media today.

    • couchtripper

      You’re on social media.

      • FunnyFaceKing

        So are you!

        • I’m not.

          • Bucket ‘o Blood

            This website is, by definition, a form of social media. Participating in this Disqus comments section is no different from posting on any other social media site, be it Facebook, 4chan, or the long dead Myspace.

          • What is social media?

          • John Cristion

            Depend on what the definition of “is” is.

          • Chiennoir

            “Is” is is.

          • Thumper Vonn

            lol, the legendary impeachment defense

          • Thumper Vonn

            True. Though one may argue the greater anonymity of a comments section makes it more quasi-social. I think to be truly social, there should be more transparency, or at least genuine representation of the communicators. But yeah, I agree just because this is a small site’s comment section doesn’t exclude it from being open to social media. The fact many people can sign in via social media like Facebook should be evidence enough.

          • Dilby

            B ‘o B didn’t get the joke. 😉

    • I was thinking the exact same thing. I had to look up supernumerary. I think it is an excellent observation and one worth making. There was great importance placed on education as the ultimate “weapon” or “tool” during the civil rights movement. I wish that were still the case today. Maybe it is, but you wouldn’t believe it if you pay attention to the media these days.

      • Lann

        I think the use of such words could be problematic as there are now more non-native English speakers in the audience. Today, online media needs to communicate with the whole world. So using more direct writing does make it easier to cover larger audiences.

        • Indyiswhatitis

          The exact opposite is true. As we increase non native English speakers in the audience, the more challenging the words should be. Complex words help foster complex ideas, and help non native speakers learn the language better, if they choose. Often, they are coming from languages rich in meaning and just as often find that English is too cold or lacks nuances. Words like supernumerary have matching words in many languages, when we don’t use such terms thats when foreigners lose the nuance. Journalists and other writers can match words found in those native languages using more complex terms. The problem with more direct words as you’ve stated is that it takes far more words to convey the idea. Anyone who tries to express ideas in multiple languages knows that learning more precise terms, often more complex, means you can be more concise in your dialogue and reduce the chances of confusing the reader or listener.

          A little story about this, a friend of mine went to Japan to sell a good to a group of Japanese corporations (something to do with cleaning), at the meeting he was told he’d need an interpreter so he hired one, he also decided since he was trying to convey complex ideas to foreigners he needed to dumb down his language using smaller words. about midway through the presentation the Japanese businessmen became to frown deeply at his presentation and several looked angry. The interpreter actually asked for a pause in the meeting and took my friend to the side and asked him why he was talking to the businessmen like they were twelve year olds, while he himself sounded unsure of the product My friend only choosing simple words made it seem like he thought the businessmen were unintelligent. They went back into the room and the interpreter actually took the blame said he having trouble with the accent. Once my friend went back to using normal terms the sales pitch went much smoother (they still didn’t buy the product but that was because according to my friend, it really wasn’t the solution they needed)

    • FraynkWash

      You can blame social media. As someone who’s been teaching for the past 6 years, I personally blame standardized testing and its role in determining school funding as completely destroying our education system. Children and teens will always find ways to “pass notes” to one another, be it on scribbled pieces of paper or via twitter. But the true monsters are the deluge of homework depriving children of the chance to play, learn, bond with their families, and explore their own reading interests, systematically underfunded schools, poorly trained teachers with an ever-increasing turnover rate, a growing culture in which parents ally with misbehaving/irresponsible children against the teacher (rather than the parent and teacher presenting a united front), and standardized tests as a horrifically misguided way to allocate state resources amongst schools.

      • Bill Oliver

        My kids went to a Waldorf School.. They had minimal homework, and had ample time to be “kids” after school hours. For all that it cost, I’m very glad that they went to the schools that they did. They learned how to think, how to read, and how to reason. Both are wonderful college students now, with bright futures…. I’m so glad that they didn’t have to suffer through public school education….

        • FraynkWash

          I’m glad your kids turned out great. I’d caution against brushing off public school education in one fell swoop though – most of my brightest students are from public schools. But then again, I’m lucky to teach in a fairly well-off area. The problems I listed above are particularly exacerbated in lower income districts, and if you yourself live in or near one of those, I don’t blame you at all for going with the private school option.

        • LifelongTnsn

          “Suffer through a public school education”? That’s quite a broad brush to paint with, Bill. Hopefully that Waldorf education taught your kids better debate skills.

          • Victoria Cooper

            .. and greater compassion. Isn’t it enough to wander through life with a sense of smug superiority, without then sneering at the people that he feels so superior to? Amazing.

        • Brian Rewis

          I received a great education in public schools. Your comment is more than a little myopic.

        • Shawn Walker

          I have no idea why people are offended by the fact you didn’t want to put your children in a public school. Many public school districts have been and continue to struggle in providing a quality education. And this hasn’t recently started. I’m now 41 and my parents chose to pay for me to attend private school because public school students tested lower and faced more violence. Good for those who received outstanding education from public schools but be honest, unless you live/lived in an affluent school district, you take a huge risk with public school education.

          • Eric Van Bezooijen

            Tell that to the people who spent thousands of dollars attending ITT Tech, Corinthian Colleges, and Trump University.

          • Eugevenmi Fellash

            Trump University was not an accredited university or college. It did not confer college credit, grant degrees, or grade its students. Rather, it was an organization that offered seminars on specific real estate and wealth creation strategies…the only thing “misleading about it was that it called itself a University…had they simply been the Trump Institute, there would be no lawsuit or other nonsense about it. If you wanted to learn about real estate, it was a pretty good thing to attend. If you wanted to learn about real estate and then use the fact that you went there on your resume, then you are a moron who doesn’t deserve a job outside of the food service or housekeeping industries anyway.

          • Shawn Walker

            I believe that we were discussing elementary school and secondary education, not post secondary (college). And don’t be blinded by the high cost of those schools because people who attended public community college don’t add a shining ratio of graduates who pay back student loans and . In addition many public community college students don’t even work in their field of study.

        • James Newman

          Bill Oliver: Since a couple folks have weighed in on public school, I’ll just add my voice. I suffered through public school. I have family who suffered through teaching at a public school, and I subsequently worked in a non-teaching position in public school. Public School is a disaster and a tragedy. Moreover, it is that as a result of its design. There are many many good people all throughout it, who are mostly thwarted by the institution itself. Children are resilient, many of them make the best of it. I wouldn’t send my own children to public school unless I had no other options. I am glad, for your children’s sake, that you were able to find another. Thanks for representing your experience! James

      • BayAreaGuy

        You should continue teaching and learning, then. Blaming social media and standardized testing is absurd. These two people aren’t a representative sample of Americans in the 1960s. You can still find people with their writing skill today, and we have no evidence that the quick little missives we write on Facebook and Twitter have had any effect whatsoever on the average person’s ability to express him/herself. I do agree with you, however, on the relative value of homework. In fact, most research shows that homework has zero effect on a student’s education. I’ve been a college professor for the better part of 20 years, and I’ve never assigned homework. My students are given reading assignments and outside research projects, but no daily homework, yet they succeed at the same rate as those of my colleagues who constantly assign (and grade!) homework.

      • Electrichead

        Or, they could be like me and my friends and realized that High School had little value and College was where it was at, and if you were willing to self fund, then things like GPAs and SATs really didn’t matter all that much. I hardly ever did homework, aced most of my tests if I bothered to study at all, and graduated high school with a 2.0 GPA. My best friend who is a good 10-15 points higher than me on the Stanford-Binet, graduated with a 1.6 GPA. We were the kids that figured out what you just said, a long time ago.

        • Georgia

          If you aced most of your tests, why did you graduate with only a 2.0 GPA? Sorry, but isn’t that terrible?

          • Chiennoir

            I taught for 28 years. Good test scores are only part of a student’s education (which the schools have since forgotten.) If the kid doesn’t do any homework or finish projects on time, it doesn’t matter how brilliant he/she is. They needed to show some semblance of a work ethic to get a good grade in my class.

          • johno54

            Ethic or ability? I think you might have a concept problem here

          • johno54

            It’s terrible inasmuch as the educational system fail to find out the childs skill set and its best mean by which to impart said skill and mindset.This is 2016 and we need to get past the cookie cutting approach to education. some learn visually others aurally and others even orally. would you pour milk into a child’s ears or nose?

          • Chiennoir

            I have no “concept problem.” Ability means precisely nil if a person doesn’t actually apply their skills to the work required.

            I’d like to pour some English 101 into your brain. For a person who claims to know so much about education, your grammar is appalling.

      • ProfitOverLife

        They are taking a number of words like these out of the SATs nowadays!

        • Chiennoir

          I’m afraid the vocabulary portion of the test will soon consist of nothing but acronyms and emoticons.

      • johno54

        You are alluding to the fact that when Kids are in a relaxed environ in school that the learning is easy? wonderful. I would also add that communication is a vital function of our existence as a specie and not as individuals. The fact that kids are made too tense to learn the full parameters of standard written and oral communications does not mean that they do not communicate as this is reflected in our social media to the point of babel. So we can only conclude then that the educational system is failing us as it has become static while our kids have become more dynamic.

        • Chiennoir

          Translation: Frequent high-stakes testing does not equal an education.

          • johno54

            You seem to be an A+ student.

          • Chiennoir

            Yes, I was.

      • Teimur Abdel-Wahed

        Dear FraynkWash: What you’ve described is exactly what I — also a teacher — have observed for quite some time. However, I humbly disagree with laying all of the blame on social media, because I see the parents being more of the blame. Let me clarify: (so-called) parents have established themselves are the “playground friend” with their children, or the money-laced pacifier of the children (i.e., deal with everything by throwing money at it, instead of addressing the problem(s) and their roots head on), in addition to the reality that they expect the teacher(s) to play the role of mother and/or father to their children. The lack of parenting is what children bring into the classrooms via disruptive behavior, poor academic skills, and a whole plethora of problems that NEVER existed in the days of our childhood years. There is no such thing as education without parents. At the same time, the deficiencies on the school side of the coin can’t be denied either — such as insufficient funding; private schools set up as business, instead of institutes of learning; inadequately trained teachers; and a slew of other problem sources.

        As to David Asher’s original post: Believe me, I sob over this reality! The proper usage of grammar and concise vocabulary to convey the point(s) of a writer is something I sorely miss. This also adds to my argument that there is a such thing as TOO MUCH TECHNOLOGY. Children of the current generation of teens can barely sign their names, let alone fill out forms or communicate effectively — both written and verbal. The excessive dependency on electronic means of communication is crippling the youth beyond words.

    • DamionThorn

      Wot U talkin’ ’bout?


      In all seriousness, I, too, took note of that….and relished every word I read.

      Something incredibly attractive about ANYONE who makes the effort to write well…even on social media. But then again, I once dated someone because I was completely enthralled by her vocabulary….

    • tacojiminez

      You mean people use more formal language in interpersonal communication than they do when dealing with a random cockslapping fucktard on the shitcocking internet?

      Fuck me sideways and call me Cuntbag, I’d have never guessed.

      • cade

        Why, Annie Wilkes, is that you?

    • arbcar

      That’s because the exchange is typewritten, on paper, and sent via the US mail.
      The instant back-and-forth of email wasn’t available, so people thought before they wrote, and read what they wrote, before dropping it in the box.

      • tahshah

        I agree. In addition, if you have ever used a manual typewriter, you may know that it was worse to consider your words and their spelling before wasting your ribbon, as corrections weren’t so easily made, and a mistake in the last line could have you redoing the entire page.

        • Elizar Bornsaine

          There are people who write that way on social media. For the most part, they get ignored or wildly misinterpreted. The current climate is not friendly to the literate.

        • tahshah

          Of course this was 3 months ago and I just noticed my own typo… I’ll leave it for honesty’s sake…

    • Reneé T. Armstead

      SO true! I was thinking the same thing David.

    • ekena

      Indeed, those letters from yesteryear display exemplary vocabulary. But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna thumb-type “supernumerary” on my iPhone when the words “add” or “extra” will do! TTFN! 😉

      • Shane Briggs

        An Android user would Swype it.

    • ThatHat

      A formal letter written to an esteemed writer/artist being written with more thought and care than casual conversation on social media? Wowzers!

    • sethblink

      Full disclosure: I had to look up supernumerary. So, I learned two things today.

    • ProfitOverLife

      Yup, and they are taking quite a number of words like these OUT of the SATs now, from what I read!

    • Had a similar discussion with an older gentleman. We came to the conclusion that the skill of writing is a lost art…(i.e. Thank You notes)

    • bitterseed

      I went to public school and I’ve not done to badly. I’m not irritated with your comment but as you’ll see with the comments following yours .. life is one big argument and it always turns political. I would take civility and bad grammar any day than what we have today which is one giant, contiguous section of comments filled with vitriol and blame.

      I hope all of you think about just what awful humans you are to just argue and belittle each other. Your kids see this. You are passing it on. Period.

    • Kay5664

      I agree.

  • MarthaB

    Nice story, but why do you imply that it was Charles Schultz who first integrated comic strips? Morrie Turner, the creator of Wee Pals, created the first integrated comic strip. He and Sparky were very close friends. Wee Pals was like a fully integrated Peanuts — black kids, Jewish kids, a kid in a wheelchair, a Vietnamese kid, and more — from the START of the strip. It took off in 1968, after MLK’s assassination, and was in every major paper in the country — over 400 of them. I get frustrated when the media write stories that get facts wrong. Schultz may have been brave to put Franklin into Peanuts, but he was not the pioneer of integrated comic strips.

    • James Terrell McClenny

      I don’t think they were implying that Charles Schultz was among the first, but was one of the comic strip artists that was in a strong enough position to make an impact by introducing a black character into Peanuts. To this day Peanuts is still featured in newspapers all over the place, while the strip you spoke of is no longer in existence. Truth is, the article focuses on Schultz because he was a household name.

      • MarthaB

        Sure, but why not at least mention the cartoonist who WAS the first to introduce an integrated strip? And Wee Pals DID have an impact — one that Schultz felt was quite important himself. This article implies that Schultz was the first and some kind of hero for being so, completely disregarding Turner. It’s lazy journalism, IMO, that’s all, and added to it is my 40-plus-year personal friendship with Morrie Turner, which makes me a bit resentful of the omission. That, and it’s just another example of how white “pioneers” are celebrated while the Black people who were the REAL pioneers are ignored. Schultz was a great guy and Morrie loved him, and yes Peanuts was and is a bigger deal even after his passing, but I believe that even Schultz would agree that Morrie warrants at least a mention in an article about integrating comic strips.

        • James Terrell McClenny

          The name of the article is “Why Charles M. Schulz Gave Peanuts a Black Character”. If it were something along the lines of “The First Black Characters in Major Syndicated Comics”, I could understand why you would be frustrated that no mention was made of Morrie Turner. Again, there is nothing blatant or even really subtle in this article about Schulz being the first. It simply explains why he decided to add Franklin to the gang. Furthermore, I believe you are letting the long friendship with your friend who wrote Wee Pals cloud your judgment, making you react from a more emotional than logical stance. If you really want to see that Morrie gets the recognition you believe he deserves, why not write to the person who wrote this article, and ask them to do another piece on Morrie Turner and other influential cartoonists who integrated more diversity into comics as an offshoot of this article? That way, he would be able to go into greater depth on Morrie and others who helped in the movement.

          • MarthaB

            Well, I kind of thought I WAS directing my comment to the writer, by posting a comment in the first place. I would have guessed that the writer of an article pays attention to the comments on it. And a MENTION is all I’m saying. I’m not sure what “emotional” reasons you have for attempting to diminish the validity of my feelings on this. To me, a simple “While Morrie Turner was the first cartoonist to introduce an integrated cast his strip Wee Pals, Schultz had a more complicated reason for adding a Black character to Peanuts,” something really simple and basic, would have been appreciated. I’m not wielding a pitchfork, for heaven’s sake. While YOU may recognize that the article is more about the situation behind the addition of Franklin, I’ve seen many friends post this article as an accolade to Schultz for being so brave as to introduce a Black character.

          • James Terrell McClenny

            That’s just it though. It’s not about Schulz’s bravery for introducing a black character, it’s an article posting the facts on why he introduced one. You could maybe imply from Schulz saying that he would quit if they didn’t publish what he wrote as bravery, but that was not the point the writer was trying to make. This is an article based on facts, not an opinion based one. If Charles Schulz had clearly stated “Morrie Turner was one of the main reasons I decided to introduce a black character into Peanuts”, then it would have a place in this article. You are taking a completely different subject and trying to tie it into an educational article that has no place for it. As for your friends claiming he is brave for this, take it up with them, not the writer. And it is almost painfully optimistic to believe the writer is going to read every comment posted about his article, especially with the mass profusion of trolls on social media. He would be much more likely to read a message sent to him personally, especially if it is well reasoned and presented correctly.

          • MarthaB

            Got it. Not only is my feeling on this article invalid because I knew Morrie Turner personally, but I’m stupid for posting it as a comment on the article rather than sending it directly to the author, whose email address I do not have and do not see any link to in this article or on Flashbak, and because I’m a silly ninny for thinking authors look at the comments on their articles. I am terribly sorry to have disturbed you so and been such an idiot. Merry Christmas!

          • James Terrell McClenny

            You are not stupid or idiotic in the slightest. You are very well spoken, and it does great credit to you that you are seeking recognition for your friend for doing something worthy of praise despite the political and racially diverse climate during that time period. I am just saying that while the subject you are bringing up is certainly related to this article, it is not pertinent to the article itself. Please don’t think I find you ignorant or lacking in intelligence, for that was never my intent. As for contacting the author personally, I would be happy to help you attempt to find the information to contact him and suggest an article either solely about the achievements of Morrie Turner, or of him and those of the same mindset.

          • butters

            James Terrell McClenny, honestly, as an independent observer, you are really come off like a complete douche in the above exchange and Freddy Rumsen, well obviously he is practically subhuman. Martha was awesome enough to contribute to the conversation with historical information of note that added to the context of the conversation. all you did was mansplain and bully.

          • telepresence

            But Martha did start with a criticism of the piece which is unfair given the actual aim and scope of the piece. The article is about a particular moment in Peanuts history, not about the history of race in comic strips. It’s like doing an article titled “How Henry Ford built his first car” and someone going “But Henry Ford didn’t invent the car!”

          • James Terrell McClenny

            You are neither stupid nor idiotic, and it was never my intent to portray you as such. You are very well spoken, and it does great credit to you that you are seeking recognition for your friend for doing something worthy of praise despite the political and racially diverse climate during that time period. I am just saying that while the subject of Morrie Turner is related to this article, it is not pertinent to it. If you would like the story to be told, go to the “contribute” section of this website (it’s at the bottom of the page), and tell them all about Morrie and his accomplishments. If you direct it to the attention of Paul Sorene, the author of this article, he might be interested in writing an article about the subject. In doing so, you get just not a little snippet in an article that will possibly be quickly forgotten, but a factual article highlighting the achievements of your friend.

          • FreddyRumsen

            James, I apologize for Martha B, this is what we deal with online, you were SUPER clear and correct, she was holding onto her bias and ended with self serving sarcasm

          • butters

            Freddy Rumsen = complete piece of shit.

    • A Pleb

      The article merely states that this is the first carton featuring the new character, Franklin.

  • NicRel

    whats sad is in 2015 we’re STILL talking about ways to introduce diversity and people of color and women into significant roles in our society

    • Max Kennedy

      I think the point became mote with the election of Obama. There is clearly not a majority that view things that way.

      • NicRel

        never said a majority felt that way but theres enough to make it still an issue.

      • homasapiens

        no… Obama became an excuse, in some circles for not doing any more work.

      • Except for the bit where loads of people said he was a secret muslim from Kenya.

  • Bill Thompson

    When this kind of thing is discussed, I always wonder why Asians aren’t even in the conversation.
    How many Asian TV shows are there?
    How many Asian actors in movies and TV?
    How many Asians are in Peanuts?

    5.6% of the U.S. population is Asian. They aren’t represented fairly and NOBODY is even talking about it.

    • dls954

      No, Asians aren’t in this conversation.This wasn’t a thesis on minorities in popular media over the last 40 years. It was a story about one change in one comic strip.
      If you really think NOBODY is talking about it, you should widen your circle of bodies. You could start by following George Takei and Love Life of an Asian Guy on Facebook.

      • Bill Thompson

        Thank you for the correction. Two people are talking about it. Not “nobody”.

    • Erronthesideofcaution

      It’s getting better. Fresh Off the Boat is a great show about a Chinese family. The Mindy Project and Master of None have Indian main characters (and creators, both of whom came off of other popular network shows where they had supporting roles). The romantic lead in the new show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (i.e., the guy she is stalking) is Filipino. There’s an Asian character in the main cast of the new show, Superstore and also in Orange is the New Black, not to mention Indian characters in Silicon Valley and The Big Bang Theory.

      • Bill Thompson

        Master of None is hilarious. 🙂

  • FunnyFaceKing

    Is someone cutting onions around here?

  • Jim Carrier

    I interviewed Schulz, Trudeau, and all the other leading cartoonists for a
    1971 AP Newsfeatures piece. Race was still a touchy subject in the
    funnies. Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey) made the loudest leap when Lt. Flap
    burst into the Sunday papers in the fall of 1970 with the line, “How
    come there’s no blacks in this honkie outfit?”
    To add to this interesting piece, Schulz told me (3 years after introducing Franklin in
    1968) that he didn’t include Franklin much. “I don’t feel I’m in a
    position at all to do ethnic strips. I’m not an expert on what it’s like
    to be a black boy. I suppose what I’d really like to have him is just
    another boy in the comics.”

  • disqus_zLY0jsDmax

    What a great article. Charles Schultz, as evidenced by the quality and durability of Peanuts, was a superb human being and brilliant cartoonist. This story is fascinating and a wonderful glimpse into a little piece of American history. Thanks for the research.

  • Chaos Lord

    It is all very well to condemn social media for the lapse in standards of grammar and punctuation used these days. Unfortunately, this is the inevitable result of keyboards being used by people who cannot, and were never taught to, type. Also the shortcuts which are practically necessitated by the clumsy and dexterity challenging medium of text.

  • LovingLyf

    I am completely fascinated by letter writing. It is a lost art. As well as learning to sign your name. If we, our society, continue on a trend of young people and young adults only being able to write in txt spk, then we will have limited number of business minds. I was talking to a young lady today about starting a business. I said write in our discussion a plethora of times as we went through steps and processes. But, hey, I’m come from an old school way of learning. I still send Christmas cards and write Thank You notes. Maybe one day people won’t have to write business plans and grant proposals. They’ll do it all through email, texts, and 140 characters.

  • Jason Reignbeaux

    I’m shocked by Schulz’s bizarre answer to wanting to integrate a minority in Peanuts. It was like a cop-out excuse–and a weak one at that. Very, very glad he came through and even put his career on the line for creating the Franklin character. God, how I remember when that happened. SUCH a huge deal to me. I was at that age when I was knee-deep into Peanuts. I had piles of those little paperbacks.