etroit was finally introduced to Melody Ellison, the newest American Girl, over the weekend during a pair of debut events at the Detroit Public Library and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History. When we first learned the doll’s story takes place in the Motor City, we already knew she’d be pretty cool, but here are four more reasons she’s actually a badass.
1. She’s got friends in high places
Every aspect of this American Girl, including the doll itself and the accompanying books, was planned with the assistance from a six-member advisory board of movers and shakers, including the Wright’s President and CEO Juanita Moore, former Detroit NAACP executive director and former Detroit city councilwoman JoAnn Watson and even late civil rights leader Julian Bond.
“We were asked to talk about our views in respect to a 9-year-old growing up in Detroit in the ’60s. The events of the period as we recalled them, to make sure that they were threaded into the story of her life. That was the primary goal,” Watson tells BLAC. “I was 12 years old when Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King marched in Detroit, so it’s very meaningful to talk about that era as someone who was born in Detroit, grew up in Detroit, really loved Motown music, and also loved civil rights. I also had a big mama and went to church every Sunday like in the book, so many layers of the story laid out in Melody’s life paralleled my life.”
2. Her book includes passages on 1960s Civil Rights issues in Detroit
The Melody doll’s accompanying book, No Ordinary Sound, delves into heavy but age-appropriate topics such as housing discrimination and racial injustice. Though written for kids 8 and up, the book doesn’t shy away from using historical terms like “negro” and “colored.”
“I think [Melody’s] story is important to be told because Detroit’s story is important to be told. When we tell Detroit’s story, we’re telling the story of African American’s sort of all over this country,” Author Denis Lewis Partick tells BLAC. “It’s important for readers to know that the struggle was going on everywhere, not just in the South. That’s mostly what kids were exposed to, unless they have a family connection somewhere else. This was going on everywhere, and I think that that’s very important.”
3. You can get some pretty awesome accessories
In Melody’s books, she has a dream of becoming a Motown star. For a cool $250, you can snag Melody’s recording studio so your doll can channel her inner Martha Reeves or Diana Ross. The product description on the website says that this recording studio is “based on a real historical recording studio,” which we’re almost certain is at Hitsville.
4. She’s already giving back to the community
American Girl partnered with the Detroit Public Library system to donate $125,000 worth of Melody Dolls and Books, along with a $50,000 monetary donation to the Detroit Public Library’s 22 branches across the city, so any interested Metro Detroit child can get a free Melody book through the end of 2016.
The doll officially goes on sale nationwide on August 25, but you can buy the doll at the new temporary American Girl store at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi and at the Charles H. Wright Museum store until September 4.