Harriet Glickman, who in 1968 persuaded Charles M. Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” to insert an African-American character to his roster of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang, died on March 27 at her property in Sherman Oaks, Calif. She was 93.
Her daughter, Katherine Moore-MacMillan, claimed the cause was issues of myelodysplastic syndrome.
Ms. Glickman was a previous schoolteacher in California when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, stunning the country and heightening her issue about what she observed as poisonous racism that permeated culture.
She started thinking of approaches the mass media shaped the unconscious biases of America’s young children, she later on wrote, and “felt that anything could be done as a result of our comic strips.”
She wrote to many cartoonists, together with Mr. Schulz, urging them to add black characters to their strips.
At the time “Peanuts,” which had been appearing given that 1950, was syndicated in about 1,000 newspapers and achieved tens of thousands and thousands of viewers, in accordance to Benjamin L. Clark, the curator at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Ms. Glickman recognized that loyal “Peanuts” audience might be nonplused, or even irritated, by a new character. So she wrote a letter to Mr. Schulz in April 1968, shortly right after Dr. King’s assassination, that created a sensible scenario for adding a black character even though acknowledging the dangers associated.
“I’m guaranteed one doesn’t make radical alterations in so significant an establishment without having a lot of shock waves from syndicates, clients, etcetera.,” she wrote. “You have, having said that, a stature and track record which can withstand a excellent deal.”
Mr. Schulz replied later on that month. Numerous cartoonists, he wrote, “would like quite substantially to be equipped to do this, but each and every of us is fearful that it would seem like we had been patronizing our Negro mates.”
Ms. Glickman questioned Mr. Schulz if she could share his letter with some black good friends to get their enter, and he agreed. One of individuals mates, Kenneth Kelly, a neighbor with whom Ms. Glickman protested housing discrimination, wrote that incorporating a black character, without excellent fanfare and “in a everyday day-to-day scene,” would make it possible for black little ones to see on their own in well-known society and “suggest racial amity.”
Mr. Schulz responded to Ms. Glickman at the beginning of July that she really should seem out for a strip to be revealed toward the finish of the thirty day period.
On July 31, 1968, Franklin Armstrong appeared in “Peanuts” for the initial time, returning a seaside ball Charlie Brown had shed in the ocean and then assisting him create a sand castle. Nothing apart from the shade of his skin set him apart from the other small children in the strip.
Even although Franklin was a peaceful existence, viewers discovered him. One of them was Barbara Brandon-Croft, whose comic strip, “Where I’m Coming From,” grew to become the very first by an African-American woman to be nationally syndicated in the mainstream press.
“I bear in mind emotion affirmed by looking at Franklin in ‘Peanuts,’” Ms. Brandon-Croft was quoted as expressing in The New York Occasions in 2018, when the Schulz Museum held an exhibition known as “50 Decades of Franklin.” “‘There’s a minor black kid! Thank goodness! We do issue!’”
Numerous audience wrote in help of the new character. But some others have been furious, which includes at minimum one newspaper editor in the segregated South who wrote that he was incensed when Franklin appeared in school with the other figures.
Mr. Schulz explained to Penthouse magazine in a 1971 job interview that introducing Franklin “brought the strongest criticism I can remember.”
“There weren’t several letters,” he included, “but they had been quite vehement.”
Franklin continued showing up in new “Peanuts” strips, and the criticism soon quieted. Mr. Schulz died in 2000.
Above time some “Peanuts” viewers arrived to resent that Franklin did not have much more defining attributes. One particular of them was the comedian Chris Rock.
“Everybody bought their point besides Franklin!” he said on “Saturday Night time Live” in 1992. “Give him anything! Damn, give him a Jamaican accent!”
David Kamp, an editor at Self-importance Good, when asked Ms. Glickman irrespective of whether she was at any time annoyed that Franklin was supplied a moderate disposition. He posted her response in an impression essay he wrote for The Times.
“Never!” Ms. Glickman said. “Are you kidding me? I was so delighted with Charles Schulz. He did what he could do at the time.”
Harriet Mae Ratner was born in Sioux Town, Iowa, on Nov. 17, 1926, to Harry and Toni (Merlin) Ratner. Her parents, Jewish immigrants from Russia, ran a grocery keep. The family finally moved to Chicago, wherever Harriet graduated from Hyde Park Superior School (now Hyde Park Academy Higher University) in 1943.
Her mothers and fathers have been staunch progressives, and she grew up attending protests in assist of the labor and civil legal rights movements, between other leads to.
She examined English at the College of Michigan, then accomplished her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1948. In 1950 she married Richard Glickman, a film lights engineer who intended a preferred fog equipment, and in 1954 she retired from her job as a specific requires instructor in Burbank to care for her small children.
From 1982 until eventually 1999 Ms. Glickman was the director of courses and services for the Southern California Affiliation for Philanthropy (now recognised as Southern California Grantmakers).
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by two sons, Paul and Simon a sister, the actor and casting director Joanna Merlin Dretzin and a few grandsons. Mr. Glickman died in 2018.
In 2014 the Schulz Museum done an oral background job interview with Ms. Glickman, who claimed she hoped that visitors would not neglect that not that extended in the past a comedian strip panel exhibiting “a kid who was not pretty as gentle as the other characters” had caused a stir.
“There’s nevertheless much to be finished,” she claimed at the stop of the job interview.