There’s a new American Girl doll! Her name is Melody Ellison and she represents the civil rights era. She officially made her debut yesterday as the store’s newest BeForever character, Melody Ellison. Like all American Girl dolls, Melody, has a story. She is a 9-year old growing up in Detroit, Michigan, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Using her beautiful singing voice, she lifts her voice for equality and helps bring this significant time in America’s history to life for girls today.
As the mother of a brown-skinned 9 year old, I was thrilled to see this new doll. We are big American Girl doll fans in this house. I love that they can teach my daughter about a different historical period. I love that they have books with each doll as the main character that get my daughter excited about reading. And I love that there are dolls that reflect my daughter’s skin color, hair texture, and heritage.
We have brought our children to peace marches and have encouraged them to learn about their history. We watch the news with them. We talk with them about today’s struggles in regards to race and class, as well as how far people of color have come.
My in laws lived through segregated schools in the south. My husband’s aunts can tell stories of having to use the “colored” water fountains. Those things didn’t happen 100 years ago. It was one or two generations removed from where we are now. Kids today need to learn about these things. We must never forget the struggle of the 60’s. Melody Ellison will help bring that time period alive through the eyes of a nine year old girl. Love that!
I was pleased to learn about how much time and effort American Girl spent ensuring the historical accuracy and cultural authenticity of Melody’s story and product collection. It was so imperative to American Girl to get this right, they worked for over two years with an esteemed six-member advisory board. The board reviewed and provided input on all aspects of Melody’s development—from the doll, books, outfits, accessories, issues, and story setting. The Melody advisory board members included:
- The late Horace Julian Bond, chairman emeritus, NAACP Board of Directors and founding member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
- Gloria House, director and professor emerita, African and African American Studies, University of Michigan-Dearborn
- Juanita Moore, President and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and founding executive director of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis
- Rebecca de Schweinitz, associate professor of history, Brigham Young University, Utah, and author of If We Could Change the World: Young People and America’s Long Struggle for Racial Equality
- Thomas J. Sugrue, professor of history at New York University and author of Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
- JoAnn Watson, native of Detroit, ordained minister, and former executive director of the Detroit NAACP
Learn more about Melody Ellison with in-store events.
To coincide with Melody’s debut this week, American Girl is launching the Lift Your Voice with Melody campaign. Starting this week, fans can watch the Lift Your Voice with Melody video and then share their own inspiring videos and photos on how they make a difference, using #LiftYourVoice. This weekend, American Girl retail stores across the country are hosting free Melody-inspired events geared for girls ages 8 and up that include a free craft, 1960s music, food, and a free gift. In addition to the doll, there will be Melody clothes and accessories as well as her book series for sale. Want to do some early Christmas shopping? Check out the limited time sale on Melody related items through August 29th. More details are available at www.americangirl.com/retail.