Meet American Girl’s Newest Doll Melody
Celebrating their 30 year anniversary and in honor of Black History Month, American Girl Doll has announced their newest historical doll this summer, Melody Ellison, the third African American doll out of the 20 historical dolls.
Since 1986, American Girl has sold more than 29 million dolls and over 153 million books. Vice President of the marketing department Julia Prohaska speaks highly of how far the company has come. “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.”
In 2014, American Girl was criticized for discontinuing two of their minority dolls, African American Cecile Rey and Chinese American Ivy Ling considering the already low number of these minority dolls.
Prohaska went on to say how she thinks “the doll industry has a very heavy responsibility in reflecting what is true about our society.” When Addy was first launched, she was to address the topic of slavery before addressing anything else in Black History. “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,” says Prohaska.
Melody Ellison is a nine year old African American girl growing up in 1960’s Civil Rights Detroit. She loves to sing and uses her voice to make a difference.
Senior historian for this project Mark Speltz explains how “the movement was driven by average, ordinary Americans, like Melody.” In order to get her story just right, there were six historians and educators on the panel advisory board, including Civil Rights activist Julian Bond to ensure authenticity.
In an article introducing Melody, American Girl shared their motivation behind developing her story and books, author Denise Lewis Patrick explained that since February is Black History Month, many young girls will be learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in school, “but even in our own changing times, civil rights issues and the social climate of the 60’s may be difficult to fully understand,” and that is why they are so proud of Melody, “whose story reflects the changing face and history of the nation during that important era.”
Child psychologist Dr. Sharlene Jackson supports American Girl’s new approach with Melody, but also stresses how important modern stories of African American dolls are too.
In order to build and keep interest in their company, American Girl launched a new campaign last year encouraging girls to take a pledge to empower each other and over 50,000 have signed on!
If you believe in the empowerment of all girls, you can take “The Pledge” yourself here and don’t forget to pick up your own Melody doll this summer!