Race, Franklin, Peanuts and Historical Conversations with Kids

peanutsthanksgivingYesterday, while going through instagram I came across a posting about this image that caught my attention. The posting was an observation about Franklin eating alone on his side of the table. As many times as I’ve seen this image, I’ve never noticed anything wrong until that moment. My dad, a historical aficionado, never noticed it either. This image was a hot topic during our family thanksgiving as it sparked a conversation about history that our kids needed to know.

Their grandparents could not go to school with white kids. Playing together just did not happen. Our kids love going to restaurants and their grandparents were not allowed to enter the front door. This is something that we rarely talk about but it’s important because it’s our history and our kids need to know those stories. This image, as sweet as it is, was a gateway to that.

Of course, I posted it to facebook with the caption ”

I have never noticed anything wrong with this picture until now…”

There were several interactions from others who never noticed it either or who wanted to talk about everything else in the picture but the segregation of a children’s dinner. I found this interesting for many reasons with most of them being that we tend to avoid conversations when they are uncomfortable because as much as this image is history, it is still very much a reality for many of us in various forms.

In an interview (below), Schultz spoke about the introduction of Franklin and how someone in the south wrote him and asked that he not show the kids in school together. Considering the time when the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special aired, I can only imagine the uproar that would have happened had Franklin been animated to have dinner alongside his friends. I imagine that had Schultz done that…this classic may not have seen the light of day.

It’s still interesting to me that in this day and age, we never even noticed it.

Comments 2

  1. Refranz,

    I was one of those kids that went to school from Kindergarten to 6th grade in all white school. That was the early 60’s. It never even occurred to me that it was all white at the time until we had a Korean girl come to school when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade. It was so odd.

    When I went to junior high, just 6 blocks from my house, it was my first truly integrated school experience. I remember thinking at the time, “Where did all of these kids come from?” I never saw people of color in my neighborhood.

    I’m sure, in retrospect, my parents chose the neighborhood we were in for that very reason. Or at least in part for that reason.

    I now work in a school housed in an historic train depot. The building itself is a history lesson on so many levels. We have the grand ballroom where people waited to catch their train. We have a very ornate smaller room off to the side where unaccompanied women waited away from the cigar smoking men in the main room. And next to that is a smaller, nondescript room that was the waiting area for African American patrons. It had its own entrance and exit. It still saddens me when I walk through that room, and we use it as a history lesson for our own students.

    Like you, I never noticed the placement of Franklin in the Peanuts comic strips. And while it is disheartening in today’s terms to see him sitting there by himself, I celebrate the fact that he’s there. It was a small step, but an important one.

    Thank you for the reminder on Facebook. 🙂

    1. Post

      You’re right Time about celebrating that Franklin was there! That was HUGE and brave of Charles Schultz to do. Your story is like the other side of my parent’s stories. Thank you so much for sharing it here! I don’t have the experience but they do. You do. It’s a part of our nation and it’s important because you can’t really appreciate how far we’ve come without knowing where we started and the struggles along the way. I am thankful for that because my life and the lives of my children are possible because of it.

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