Today I want to tell you about the American Girl Doll Melody Ellison, and I want to tell you why I consider her to be the best African American Historical Doll.
In my opinion, one of the main things that separates the American Girl Dolls from other dolls is that they can facilitate several types of learning. The better of the historical dolls can be harnessed to teach history in a powerful and integrated way, and I believe that the teaching of history must be one of the American Girl Doll Company’s goals. In this Melody Ellison banner, American Girl says: “Connecting Girls to the Past,” and I believe that Melody Ellison does connect us to the past. But Melody is not the first African American historical doll, and yet, in my opinion, she is the only one of the African American historical dolls that is relatively true to the period that she represents. She is the only one of the African American Girl dolls that truthfully connects girls to her past.
I have read several reviews written about the other historical African American American Girl Dolls, and it seems to me that prior to Melody, the American Girl Doll Company had tried to tip-toe around the race issue and to distort or whitewash African American history to make everyone seem have been the same and to make history seem to have been more attractive than it sometimes was.
Don’t get me wrong. I detest the slavery chapter of this nation’s history. That is when the American Girl Dolls Addy Walker and Cecile Rey lived. I hate bigotry, but I do not believe that it is in anyone’s best interest to distort or to grossly whitewash the facts. A wise man said that those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it, and I believe that there are elements about the first two African American Dolls that are efforts to stretch the truth. I am convinced that both the Addy Doll and the Cecile Doll could have been more realistic without entering a fantasy world and without being tasteless either. I’ll say more about that in other reviews, but in this review, I want to focus on ways that the American Girl Doll Melody Ellison is more true to what was happening for the African Americans in her time period–the period of the 1960s.
Melody Ellison was a child who lived in Detroit during a very exciting time for African Americans.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., came to Detroit in 1963, and the Rights of African Americans all over the United States began to change.
Detroit was also the Motown Music center of the world, and Motown music was the rage during the 1960s.
Several of the female Motown singers had hair styles that were like Melody’s hair style, and I love this about the Melody doll.
Melody Ellison’s accessories are on target, too. Notice that the accessories include a political button that alludes to Dr. King’s visit to Detroit in 1963. It says. “Equal Rights in ’63.”
Melody Ellison’s little turquoise hat is a pillbox hat, and Jackie Kennedy is the person who was primarily responsible for making the pillbox hat a fashion staple during the 1960s.
Last, Melody Ellison’s cateye sunglasses were another fashion craze during the 1960s. The rim of cateye glasses turn upward on the top, outer corner, and the shapes of the two eye areas in the rims of cateye glasses look like a pair of cat’s eyes.
In several ways, I believe that Melody Ellison accurately depicts the lifestyle that was possible for African Americans during the 1960s. Part of the success of this doll hinges on the fact that the 1960s were the first time in American History when African Americans could see significant improvements in their lives. In many ways, it was the first time that the African Americans could begin to visualize that there truly was hope for them. Because hope for the African Americans had begun to emerge during the 1960s, their stories of this period can be told without feeling the pressure to whitewash them. In conclusion, I do believe that the American Girl Doll Melody Ellison does connect girls to her past, and I do believe that Melody Ellison’s voice does echo the hope of this nation in the 1960s. Melody Ellison’s mission is accomplished.
©Jacki Kellum March 15, 2017