American Girl has been around since 1986 and has sold more than 29 million dolls. So to celebrate their 30th anniversary, they are releasing a new historical doll — and she’s a beauty. Melody Ellison is nine years old, loves to sing, and lives in Detroit during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, reports CBS News.
American Girl doesn’t just make dolls but books too, and the company very much sees themselves as storytellers. Melody’s story is an important one, as it marks arguably one of the most important times for African-Americans in U.S. history.
“When we learn about the civil rights movement, we learn about a handful of really important people,” said Mark Speltz, the senior historian who helped develop Melody’s story. “But the movement was … driven by average, ordinary Americans, like Melody.”
According to a press release, “after seeing her family members face racial discrimination and experiencing it for herself, Melody decides to add her voice to those who are speaking up about inequality.”
CBS News reports that the design team worked with a six-panel advisory board made up of historians and educators to bring Melody to life. But aside from getting her story right and providing a rich history lesson, they also had to get Melody looking just right.
The panel was consulted to get the exact texture of Melody’s hair and, because she loves to sing and uses her voice to make a difference, Melody has a recording studio that plays Motown music.
Melody joins three other non-white dolls in the BeForever line: Addy is a child slave who escaped to freedom; Kaya is Native-American and wants to be her people’s leader; and Josefina is Mexican and lives in Santa Fe, a few years after Mexican independence.
Melody seems like a perfect addition to the American Girl family and here’s hoping she sticks around. It will be an ideal world when little girls and boys can see themselves and their friends in the dolls and toys they play with.