Diverse dolls

American Girl to release new African-American character from Civil Rights-era Detroit

American Girl's newest doll, Melody Ellison, tells the story of a nine-year-old girl growing up in Detroit in the 1960s. (YouTube/CBS)

American Girl announced the release of a new African-American character doll this week that hearkens to the Civil Rights era, an announcement met with both praise and criticism from many who would like to see more minority characters included in the company’s cast of dolls. The company’s newest doll, Melody Ellison, tells the story of a nine-year-old girl growing up in Detroit in the 1960s who uses her singing to try and make a difference. Her story was created by a six-panel advisory board made up of historians and educators, and was designed with special attention to her hair, according to the company.

The company has only released three African American characters, of more than 20 American Girls released over the past 30 years, and the company has faced criticism for not including enough minorities in its cast. Julia Prohaska, vice president of marketing for the company, said a lot of time and attention went into telling the civil rights story in an authentic and genuine way. Clinical psychologist Dr. Sharlene Jackson told CBS News, which first reported on the new doll, that she supports what American Girl is doing but would like to see more modern stories for African American dolls.

“As we encourage our children to learn about their history, we want also to teach them and show them that who they are right now in 2016 is fabulous as well,” Jackson said.

Read the full story at CBSNews.com.

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