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See How Peanuts Addressed Feminism, Nuclear War and More

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Peanuts, which debuted on this day in 1950, is sometimes remembered for the cute kids and dogs that filled the comic strip’s boxes — but, as an exhibit now on show at the Charles M. Schulz Museum shows, that didn’t mean it stayed away from weighty topics.

Rather, Schulz, who created Peanuts, used Charlie Brown, Snoopy and their friends to talk about some of the most controversial issues out there. Schulz didn’t often take sides, but rather — as can be seen in the examples shown here — let his characters prompt readers to think a little more deeply.

Social Commentary is on view at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., through Nov. 2.

Captions above courtesy of the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

Peanuts Comics
Peanuts, August 1, 1968 Shortly after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Los Angeles schoolteacher, Harriet Glickman, wrote to Schulz regarding the integration of Peanuts. She believed that the popular comic strip could help influence American attitudes on race, and as a result of their correspondence, Franklin was introduced to the cartoon in the summer of 1968. Peanuts © 1968 Peanuts Worldwide LLC
Peanuts Comics
Peanuts, June 18, 1954 The United States carried out the first test of a thermonuclear weapon in 1952. Russia tested a hydrogen bomb in 1953, and several other countries soon followed suit. The innocuous “H-Bomb” game played by Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Patty, contrasts their innocence with the real threat of global atomic warfare.Peanuts © 1954 Peanuts Worldwide LLC
Peanuts Comics
Peanuts, April 10, 1970 By the early 1970s, the National Organization for Women had more than 400 local chapters. Together with the National Women’s Political Caucus and other advocacy groups, they pressed for gender reform on issues such as equal pay, education, and reproductive rights. With her outspoken and unabashed persona, Lucy Van Pelt spoke to the ideology of the feminist movement in Peanuts.Peanuts © 1970 Peanuts Worldwide LLC
Peanuts Comics
Johnny Horizon Environmental Program Flier January ,1972 Schulz collaborated with the United States Department of the Interior at the request of his friend, Clayton Anderson, who worked for the Johnny Horizon Environmental Program. Associated posters and pamphlets featured Peanuts characters to promote the program’s anti-litter campaign.U.S. Department of the Interior

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