I was very happy with my Addy doll. But in recent years, I’ve learned that a lot of other little Black girls, took issue with the fact that Addy, was a slave, albeit newly escaped. Thankfully, the next generation of Black girls won’t have to worry about that.
According to CBS News, American Girl will be releasing a new, historical doll this summer. And she just so happens to be African American.
Melody Ellison is the newest doll in American Girl’s Be Forever collection, one of three historical, Black dolls the company has released in its 30 year history, including Addy and Cécile. Unlike Addy and Cécile though, Ellison is born after slavery. Her story takes place during the Civil Rights movement.
Described as an optimistic and enthusiastic girl growing up in Detroit, Ellison is a singer who is trying to decide on a song to sing for her Youth Day solo at church. In Ellison’s book, which has already been released, she will decide whether or not to use her voice to shed light on the movement that hits very close to home.
The Melody Ellison story was created by a six-panel advisory board, who purchased over 200 books to ensure that Melody’s story came across as authentic. The panel also included late civil right’s activist, author, icon and educator Julian Bond.
Mark Speltz, a historian who helped create the story said, “When we learn about the civil rights movement, we learn about a handful of really important people. But the movement was…driven by average, ordinary Americans, like Melody.”
American Girl has come under some flack in recent years, particularly when they decided to discontinue two of their ethnic dolls, Cécile and the Chinese-American Ivy Ling.
CBS News asked Julia Prohaska, vice president of marketing, why this doll was being released at this time.
Prohaska said that when Addy was released they realized that before they could address any other period in African American history, they had to start with slavery. She continued, “We do approach every character very thoughtfully, so this isn’t something we rush into. We’re not looking to address critical demand—we’re looking to tell stories in the most authentic and genuine way that we possibly can.”
Prohaska also admitted that the doll industry has a huge responsibility to create and manufacture dolls that accurately reflect society.
Melody will be available for purchase later this year. The price for the doll itself starts at $115.
Check out how Melody came together in the video below.