Maybe, like me, you are a long time Peanuts fan. From the daily and Sunday comic strips to the television specials, Charles Schultz brought this gang of children into homes for decades. Even though Charles Schultz has been gone almost two decades, his legacy continues.
The last few days, there have been several news articles about his character Franklin. Introduced fifty years ago, Charles Schultz broke through all kinds of barriers with no fanfare at all. Here is how an NPR article describes this anniversary.
More importantly, for me, was this story from the Jon S. Randal Peace Page on Facebook. I did some research and this does not appear to be an urban legend or myth. According to Mr. Randal, it was a school teacher by the name of Harriet Glickman who reached out after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to ask him to add an African-American character. After several letters back and forth, Franklin appears.
If you have access to Facebook, please read this story. Mr. Randal is a better author than I and shares how this small gesture was so HUGE in the life of many. In the late 1960’s, having a black and white child play together at a beach and go to school together was a major event. Not everyone approved. And yet, a simple comic strip began to paint a picture of a different world, a world where children belong together: playing, going to school and visiting each other’s homes.
Fifty years later, it is a vision and a picture we still need. I am saddened and grieved by how many children in this country still go to bed hungry, are in need of basic medical care and are overlooked and ignored because of the color of their skin or their country of origin. I, guess I am idealistic, because I never thought I would live to the year 2018 and see bigotry and hatred raise its ugly head and be considered acceptable.
Still, I am a person of hope. I continue to believe that we as people can be more accepting, more loving, more kind and more neighborly. We may not always get it right, but we don’t always have to get it wrong either. I am deeply indebted to those who, like Charles Schultz, took a risk and took stand. On Franklin’s birthday, may we normalize acceptance of others no matter the color of their skin, their religious tradition or country of origin.