American Girl debuts doll from civil rights era

Meet Melody, the newest historical American Girl doll.

Meet Melody, the newest historical American Girl doll.

The American girl franchise is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and to mark the occasion, they are creating a new historical doll. This one, Melody, is an African-American girl who lives in the era of the civil rights movement.

“I think it’s that we stayed true to our mission and purpose and while it’s easy to call us a doll company, we’ve always seen ourselves as storytellers,” said Julia Prohaska, vice president of marketing.

The American Girl historical dolls have encapsulated many aspects of American history and have included previously two other dolls telling the story of girls of color. One, Kaya, is a Native American girl who wants to learn how to lead her people, while another, Addy, is a child slave who is able to escape to freedom.

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“I think the doll industry has a very heavy responsibility in reflecting what is true about our society,” Prohaska said.

“When we launched Addy, the universal feeling was that we needed to address the very difficult topic of slavery before we addressed any other experience in black history,” Prohaska explained.

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Melody’s story will be that of a nine-year-old girl living in Detroit in the 1960s who wants to use her voice and singing talents to make a difference.

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“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,” said Mark Speltz, the senior historian who helped develop Melody’s story.

Melody will be available in stores this upcoming summer.