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American Girl has emerged as one of the top businesses of its sort, selling millions of its beloved dolls and books aimed at young girls since debuting in 1986. This summer the company will reveal its latest doll, a girl from the civil rights era named Melody Ellison, as reported by CBS News.

The network was given exclusive access to American Girl’s design studio for a closer look at little Melody, a nine-year-old girl growing up in Detroit during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. What we learn from the report is that the creation of Melody’s story was carefully orchestrated under the advisement of a six-person advisory board which included late civil rights leader, Julian Bond.

The company, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this summer, will debut Melody to coincide with the milestone moment and add on to its BeForever historical line. However, as noted by CBS News and other outlets in times past, American Girl has come under fire for its lack of diversity among its 20 doll characters.

Melody is just the third African-American doll created by the company, and the executive ranks at American Girl are aware of the criticisms. In the report, Julia Prohaska, vice president of marketing at American Girl, stated that company won’t respond to “critical demand” but did say their role is mainly to be authentic in their approach to telling stories.

As with all American Girl dolls, Melody’s story is told in book form. Released at the top of the year, No Ordinary Sound: A Classic Featuring Melody by author Denise Lewis Patrick, shares the tale of Melody being selected to sing at a youth event at church and not being sure what song to perform. The words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspire Melody to find her voice, even as she is emotionally affected by the rampant racism in the Deep South.

Learn more about Melody Ellison by following this link.

SOURCE: CBS News, American Girl | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO CREDIT: American Girl

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