HBCU Corner: Peanuts Worldwide launches $200,000 endowment for HBCU students in arts, animation and entertainment

HBCU Corner: Peanuts Worldwide launches $200,000 endowment for HBCU students in arts, animation and entertainment

BCN Staff – March 6, 2022 – Peanuts Worldwide recently announced the launch of “The Armstrong Project,” which establishes $200,000 in endowments at two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which includes an annual scholarship to students studying either arts, communications, animation, or entertainment. Each school will receive $100,000 to establish endowments.

The scholarship will first be awarded during the 2022-2023 school year at Howard University in Washington, DC, and Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.

Franklin Armstrong first appeared in Charles Schulz’ “Peanuts” comic strip in 1968, after California schoolteacher Harriet Glickman wrote to Schulz following the assassination of Martin Luther King, suggesting that the introduction of Black characters into the strip could help change the “vast sea of misunderstanding, fear, hate and violence.”

As an enhanced scholarship program, The Armstrong Project will also ensure mentorship and internship opportunities for the students with individuals and companies in entertainment fields such as animation, film, and television.

Cartoonist Robb Armstrong, a longtime friend and colleague of Charles Schulz and the inspiration for Franklin’s last name (revealed in 1994), is a member of the Board of Directors of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, and has been a consistent source of support throughout the creation of this important program.

“I’m very excited for the young aspiring artists at these HBCUs whose lives may be changed by Peanuts, just as my life was changed by the inspiration and mentorship of Charles Schulz,” Armstrong said. “Sparky was a thoughtful and generous man who took seriously the hopes and dreams of young people. It is my belief that he would be thrilled by the potential of The Armstrong Project to help young people fulfill their ambitions.”  Armstrong is the award-winning creator of the beloved “JumpStart” comic strip.

The character of Franklin emerged from a correspondence between Charles Schulz and a California schoolteacher named Harriet Glickman. Glickman wrote to Schulz after the assassination of Martin Luther King, suggesting that the introduction of Black characters into the comic strip could help change the “vast sea of misunderstanding, fear, hate and violence.” After much introspection and consideration, Schulz felt this was a step he could take authentically and introduced Franklin in the summer of 1968, making history in the process.

“It is incredibly moving to me that The Armstrong Project is intended to create positive change in the lives of young black animators and artists— just as the character of Franklin did so many years ago,” said Jean Schulz, widow of Charles Schulz.

“Thank you to Peanuts Worldwide for this opportunity that is being afforded to Howard University students studying arts and graphic design, said Denise Saunders Thompson, Assistant Dean, Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts. “The goal of our program is to develop an immense range of knowledge, skills and competencies in the area of visual communication through cross-curricular experiences. We are grateful to our partners who help us to meet the needs of the students in preparation for careers in the art industry.”

“Many thanks to Peanuts Worldwide for its investment in Hampton University students and other HBCUs involved in this initiative,” said Hampton University Chancellor & Provost, Dr. JoAnn Haysbert. “The establishment of The Armstrong Project endowment will ensure our talented and bright students at Hampton studying the arts, communications, animation or entertainment will continue to receive a world-class education for life.”

In related news, Franklin is also the central character in a new original short video, “Speak From the Heart,” which debuted on Feb. 8, on Peanuts.com. The video was created as part of the Take Care with Peanuts initiative, which promotes good global citizenship through three themes: Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. Take care of the Earth. In the video, Franklin loses all his Valentines thanks to a strong gust of wind—but discovers that the Valentines’ true value comes not from the cards, but from his heartfelt messages to his friends.

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