Barbie is honoring Ida B. Wells with the latest release from their Inspiring Women collection. The Ida B. Wells doll shows her in the middle of a newsroom draped in a blue dress holding a Memphis Free Speech newspaper. The Inspiring Women collection focuses on “[honoring] historical role models who paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.” Previous doll releases include Rosa Parks, Ella Fitzgerald, Katherine Johnson and Maya Angelou.
These dolls were released as a part of Mattel’s “Dream Gap” campaign after research revealed that “girls began to view their gender as inferior to boys and develop limiting beliefs about themselves at as young as 5 years old, as a result of cultural stereotypes, implicit biases and media representation.”
Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in 1862 and went on to become a feminist, investigative journalist and crusaded against lynching. She began working as a teacher after her parents and younger brother died due to the yellow fever epidemic. She took her other two siblings and moved to Memphis in 1884 and continued her career as an educator and later attended and graduated from Fisk University. In 1891, she wrote a few newspaper articles criticizing the education given to Black children which led to her teaching contract not being renewed. After the lynching of one of her friends, she jumpstarted her journalism career and began investigating the lynchings of Black men for Memphis Free Speech. White people were outraged after her article about an 1892 lynching was published and then destroyed the Memphis Free Speech’s office and made threats so vicious that she moved to Chicago. She continued her journalism career and worked as a staff writer for the New York Age and the Chicago Conservator, which was her husband Ferdinand L. Barnett’s newspaper.
She also raised awareness about lynching internationally and criticized the women’s suffrage movement for not speaking on lynchings. In 1896, she founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Club to address civil rights and Black women’s suffrage. She also played a vital role in the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), founded the Negro Fellowship League in 1910 and founded the Chicago’s Alpha Suffrage Club in 1913. She even worked as a probation officer for the Chicago municipal court from 1913 to 1916.
The Ida B. Wells doll will be released on Jan. 17, 2022 and is available for pre-order here.