Charlie Brown has joined Friends and The Simpsons as TV shows to be hit by a racial controversy after a Thanksgiving special dating back to 1973 was aired again.
The episode features the cartoon’s only black character, Franklin, sitting in a lawn chair on one side of a festive dinner table. The five white characters – and Snoopy the dog – sit on different sides in what appear to be dining seats.
“Why is Franklin in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving sitting all by himself at the table,” asked one Twitter user. “Man. Things that I did not notice as a child.”
The outrage came after the special – which is shown every year in the US – was aired by ABC on Wednesday.
“Not watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving anymore, until they sit some people on the same side of the table as Franklin,” another critic tweeted.
The scene in question centres on an impromptu holiday feast – of jelly beans and ice cream – in Charlie Brown’s back yard. At one point, the lonely Franklin – who is clearly too polite to question the unorthodox seating arrangement – topples over in his half-broken chair.
For some reason, no one appears to mention that there is a perfectly good dining seat free.
“They give our friend the busted chair and won’t even sit on the same side of the table, more proof that Charlie Brown and his cohorts are RACIST,” a social media commentator said.
But others defended the classic cartoon and pointed out its creator, the late Charles Schulz, fought to add Franklin to the cast to stand up to racism in 1968.
The character was created after a teacher wrote to him and asked for a black child to be included.
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Harriet Glickman told Schultz that something as small as him writing a child of colour into his work as the friend of a white child could make a real difference to race relations in the US.