The American Girl company is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In honor of this milestone and Black History, the beloved doll company has introduced a new doll Melody, from the Civil Rights Movement.
Melody is the third doll in the company’s BeForever, historical line. Like many of the dolls, she too has a story chronicling her journey during a revolutionary era. The American Girl’s original collection includes its first African-American doll, Addy who’s story addressed slavery and the black experience during 1864. Now, the brand is telling another element of the experience with nine-year-old Melody in the 1960s as she tries to use her singing voice to make a difference.
“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,” senior historian who helped develop Melody’s story, Mark Speltz, said.
And to ensure that the company created a story that was authentic to its time period, American Girl formed a six-panel advisory board comprised of historians and educators who could properly tell her story. The panel also includes activist, Julian Bond.
In addition to getting her story right, Melody’s lead designer, Heather Northrop noted that she and her team consulted with the panelist about proper attire and hair texture. Northrop also designed the doll’s own bed and recording studio.
Melody is another addition to American Girl’s mission to create a collection of dolls with stories that address various moments in history and that reflect the different races and experience of the children that play with them.
“I think the doll industry has a very heavy responsibility in reflecting what is true about our society,” Vice President of Marketing, Julia Prohaska said. “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.”
Take a look at the behind-the-scenes look of the design process with CBS below.