Peanuts Worldwide is supporting Black animators at HBCUs with a new $100,000 endowment project, reports Black Enterprise.
In 1968, the first Black character, Franklin Armstrong, was introduced to the legendary comic strip Peanuts by its creator Charles M. Schulz. With setback from the studio, Schulz stood his ground and threatened to quit working on Peanuts entirely if they refused to allow a Black character in the comics. In many ways, Franklin served as a trailblazer for Black animators, who as of 2019 still only made up about 4% of the industry.
“The Armstrong Project,” which coincides with what would have been the 100th birthday of Charles Schulz, takes its name from both Franklin the character and Schulz’s longtime friend and Jumpstart cartoonist Robb Armstrong. Armstrong spoke at Comic Con about how esteemed he is to have the project carry his last name. “When ‘Sparky’ (Schulz) told me he wanted to use my last name for Franklin, it was a life-changing moment. This was someone who had inspired me, and I was truly honored,” he said. “The Armstrong Project is, at its heart, something that allows dreams to come true.”
Two recipients of the initiative have already been selected from Hampton University and Howard University. Both have been granted a $10,000 scholarship, corporate mentorship, and a potential internship opportunity in animation and related fields.
Promise Robinson, the 21-year-old Hampton recipient, is inspired by Armstrong’s guidance on how to develop a project. “Mr. Armstrong says to start with dynamic characters. So I just want to start there and see where it takes me. I’m definitely looking to be very inclusive in my stories,” said Robinson.
19-year-old Howard recipient Hailey Cartwright spoke about the significance of Franklin’s character and how grateful she is to be a part of the legacy. “If Franklin had never been introduced to the Peanuts series, I can’t fathom how different my life would be. If he wasn’t there, in the direction I want to take my career in animation, would I even have a chance? I just wonder,” Cartwright pondered.
Learn more about The Armstrong Project by visiting the website here.