With that being said, Franklin’s exclusion — accidental or not — is emblematic of all the ways the field of animation failed to center or even acknowledge characters of color for decades (though things are improving, thankfully). Franklin may not have been segregated outside of that one screencap, but his character was invented with matters like segregation on the mind: according to The Washington Post, a schoolteacher wrote to Schulz in the wake of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, asking him to add a Black character to the series. The cartoonist obliged, and put his foot down when the company behind the Peanuts’ comic strip placement balked at the idea. “Either you run it the way I drew it, or I quit,” Schulz reportedly said.
Franklin was born into a divided, racist world and his appearance as a background character in classic Peanuts specials fell short at times, but “Welcome Home, Franklin” is clearly made with healing in mind. The trailer for the special doesn’t just flesh out Franklin’s established backstory and center him as a temporary protagonist (just like the rest of the Apple TV+ era specials have for key characters), but it also strives to repair the Thanksgiving problem. After revisiting Franklin and Charlie’s first meeting (which seems to match up perfectly with their comic strip introduction) and setting up a plot involving a partnered derby race, “Welcome Home, Franklin” ends by revisiting the Thanksgiving table scene — from a different perspective.