A Lesson in the Comics

Recently I read a quick article about an amazing thing that happened 50 years ago; most folks realize that back in 1968 African American people were segregated from Caucasians in many public spaces, and the work of  Martin Luther King Jr brought to light so much hatred and fear in our country. At the time of his death, there was a teacher named Harriet Glickman who saw the problems and said, “Since the death of Martin Luther King, I’ve been asking myself what I can do to help change those conditions in our society which led to the assassination and which contribute to the vast sea of misunderstanding, hate, fear and violence.” Know what she did? She turned to the comics.

Comic strips were very popular in newspapers at this time, and Glickman thought it would be valuable for viewers to see people of all colors share the classroom in the comics. She wrote letters to the major comic strip writers of the time and received responses that most were afraid of losing their syndications or negatively affecting their careers, so they would not entertain the idea. But Charles Schultz responded in a different way; he was not afraid for his career, but of offending the black community by doing it wrong, so his answer was no, as well. This is the part that fascinates me.

Mrs. Glickman could have simply received those responses, saying that she had tried. Instead, she continued to correspond with Schultz, repeatedly asking him to consider, and she had her black friends write him as well, giving recommendations on how to go about introducing a new character. Schultz replied to each letter, continuing the conversation and on July 31, 1968 Franklin came to school and sat right behind Peppermint Patty. From that time on, Franklin was a part of the Peanuts gang, subtly showing Americans how to live together. It may seem like a small thing, but think about how much we can be affected by the characters on television and movies today. The comics came in to most every household daily, regardless of income or place in society.

There is so much to be learned from this small sliver of our history, but the main lesson I am taking away from it is that when you have a good idea, you may have to push for it, and it might take some time. Push anyway, and enlist friends who will help you. A good friend will tell you if you’re misguided or on the wrong path. When you push, do so with respect and the expectation that change can come. Here is  link to the original article: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1899710623382475&id=1172578609429017

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