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American Girl Debuts African-American Doll From Civil Rights Era

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2016, American Girl will release a new historical doll this summer named Melody Ellison.

Melody is American Girl's third African-American doll in its BeForever historical line, and her story takes place during the Civil Rights era.

The new doll represents a 9-year-old girl growing up in Detroit during the 1960s who loves to sing and use her voice to make a difference, according to CBS News.

"We do approach every character very thoughtfully so this isn't something we rush into," Julia Prohaska, vice president of marketing for American Girl, tells the news site about why Melody is being introduced in 2016, so many years after the company's launch. "We're not looking to address critical demand — we're looking to tell stories in the most authentic and genuine way that we possibly can."

Prohaska also tells CBS News that it was important for the company to address the topic of slavery before they touched on other important moments in black history, such as the civil rights era. The doll Addy, which launched in 1993, featured the story of being an escaped child slave.

Touching on the important movement, senior historian Mark Speltz, who helped develop Melody's story, emphasized the role that ordinary citizens played during that tumultuous period.

"When we learn about the civil rights movement, we learn about a handful of really important people. But the movement was ... driven by average, ordinary Americans, like Melody," he tells CBS News.

And while clinical psychologist Dr. Sharlene Jackson sees the importance of children learning about their American history, she also tells the site how critical it is for kids to appreciate who they are now.

"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," she says.

Melody will arrive in American Girl stores in late summer and cost $115. Accessories, which feature a recording studio, will cost extra.

Image via CBS News

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