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Remembering Harriet Glickman, Who Helped Persuade Charles Schulz To Integrate 'Peanuts'

Ken Kelly, Harriet Glickman, and Franklin, the first black 'Peanuts' character, photographed in 2015. John Rabe / LAist
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Harriet Glickman died Friday morning at her home in Sherman Oaks. She was 93.

She was a retired school teacher and mother of three. Her son Paul Glickman is a senior editor here and veteran of our newsroom and, through him, we got to know a little bit about his mother.

Harriet has a very interesting place in history. In 1968, she wrote to “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz asking him to do something remarkable at the time: integrate his famous comic strip.

Schulz told her that he wanted to, but was concerned about how it would come across. His initial letter to her said of himself and other artists:

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"We all would like very much to be able to do this, but each of us is afraid that it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends. I don't know what the solution is."

When Harriet shared the letter with a friend, Ken Kelly, who was African American, he told Schulz: Just make the character a regular kid.

(John Rabe / LAist)

And Franklin was born.

A copy of the 1968 comic strip with a note to Harriet from the Schulz museum.

In 2015, Harriet and Ken Kelly, who by then was retired from his job as a JPL microwave communications engineer, were invited to the Clinton Presidential Center to talk about their efforts. Harriet spoke to KPCC's John Rabe about that experience:

"When I was at the museum, somebody said, ‘It took courage.’ I said, ’No it didn’t, it didn’t take courage for me to sit in Sherman Oaks in my comfortable home with my three children and type a letter.'

Courage was little Ruby Bridges, the little girl who integrated a school in the south who had to come with the National Guard with people spitting at her and yelling at her and throwing things at her and the parents who drew their children out. That was courage."

Our hearts are with Paul and his family.

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