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American Girl's Latest Doll Is Black, From Civil Rights-Era Detroit, And Costs $900 With Accessories

It's the third African American doll in the company's BeForever historical line and she comes with a story from 1960's Civil Rights era Detroit.

Melody Doll and Book American Girl
used with permission (credit: American Girl)

Meet Melody Ellison, the latest American Girl doll design, features a backstory about a 9 year-old girl who loves to sing.

The company timed the doll's announcement for Black History Month and says it will be available this summer. The description from American Girl's website describes an opportunity for learning through the doll, writing, "your daughter may be learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement in school."

According to a CBS This Morning interview, American Girl consulted with an advisory board of historians and educators, including the late civil rights activist Julian Bond, to assist with the doll's design and story. Also local experts participated including, Juanita Moore, President and CEO of Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Gloria House, Director and Professor Emerita, African and African American Studies, U-M Dearborn and JoAnn Watson: former executive director of the Detroit NAACP.

Author Denise Lewis Patrick, who wrote the companion books for the doll, shares her experience telling the character's story. "Melody does evolve in her understanding of fairness and equality," she said in a company video. "She learns to think about it in terms of others ...," adds Patrick and she encourages readers to "... think about what you can do to be a part of your community."

The company has been criticized for reducing their line's diversity when they discontinued two dolls in 2014 including Sixties era Chinese American girl Ivy Ling and 19th century African American girl Cecile Ray.

Vice President of Marketing for American Girl, Julia Prohaska told CBS This Morning, "I think the doll industry has a very heavy responsibility in reflecting what is true about our society."

The doll retails for $115 and with its full line of accessories -- including a Motown-esque recording studio -- it will total around $900.

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