It’s Franklin’s time to shine in new ‘Peanuts’ Apple TV+ special

welcome home franklin movie screen shots
The Peanuts Gang in "Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin," premiering Feb. 16.
Apple TV+

In a new Apple TV+ special “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin,” Franklin Armstrong of “Peanuts” finally gets his origin story.

When the “Peanuts” comic strip debuted in 1950, all of the characters were white kids. Minnesotan and creator Charles Schulz decided to change that as the U.S. entered the Civil Rights Movement in 1968 by introducing Franklin after he received a letter from a Los Angeles teacher.

welcome home franklin movie screen shots
Franklin Armstrong, Snoopy and Woodstock in "Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin"
Apple TV+

After the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Glickman wrote to Schulz saying she thought “Peanuts” should write in a Black character to help the country discuss race.

Franklin had humble beginnings, returning a ball to lead character Charlie Brown one day on the beach at Charles Schulz’s birthplace of Elliot Park in Minneapolis. He is often the voice of reason, can quote the Old Testament on command and is an avid baseball player.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

His influence goes back and forth among readers, some see him as a token Black character, while others see it as representation.

A comic strip
Franklin made his first appearance in a Peanuts strip in 1968.
Peanuts Worldwide LLC

Schultz’s distributor wanted him to eliminate Franklin because he felt like he was offending “pro-segregation southerners.”

Schulz responded: “Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How’s that?”

Nearly 60 years later, Apple TV+ explores Franklin meeting the Peanuts gang. His family is often on the move because his father is in the military. Everywhere he goes, he brings a notebook filled with his grandfather’s advice on friendship.

He worries when his usual tactics don’t work on Charlie Brown, but then they deiced to enter the Soap Box Derby race. Can their friendship sustain? You’ll have to tune in on Feb. 16 to find out.

movie poster for welcome home, franklin with a cartoon boy
"Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin," premiers Feb. 16 on Apple TV+.
Apple TV+

And for all the of Minnesota Peanuts fans, the Minnesota Historical Society is hosting “Franklin: The Legacy of Peanuts’ First Black Character” on March 2 at 1 p.m. The panel will consist of Robb Armstrong, a cartoonist who was inspired by Schulz to pick up the craft and who Schulz named Franklin after, Raymond Persi, the director of “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin” and Melissa Menta of Peanuts Worldwide.