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Three more African-American dolls I'd like to see from American Girl.

The new doll is a great start, but there's much more to African-American history.

For just the third time in the company's 30-year history, American Girl announced a new African-American character to their roster of historical dolls.

Meet Melody Ellison, a 9-year-old girl living in Detroit in the 1960s, a time of optimism and upheaval. Melody wants to be a singer and uses her voice to speak up about the inequality and injustice she sees in her community.


Image from American Girl, used with permission.

Created under the guidance of a six-person advisory committee consisting of educators, community advocates, historians, and even the late civil rights activist Julian Bond, Melody's story, outfits, and accessories are grounded in history and authentic to the time.

Melody joins eight other dolls in American Girl's BeForever line of historical dolls and books.

The collection includes other well-known characters like Josefina, a young girl living on a ranch in New Mexico in 1824, and Kaya, an American-Indian girl leading a life of adventure in 1764.

Kaya doll and accessories. Image via CBS This Morning/YouTube.

Melody comes less than two years after the company took some heat for discontinuing two characters of color.

In 2014, American Girl "archived" four dolls, including the company's only Asian-American doll, Ivy Ling, a Chinese-American girl living in San Francisco in the 1970s. They also shelved Cecile Rey, an African-American girl living in New Orleans in the 1850s. The two dolls were sidekicks to other dolls in the line, and the company decided to do away with doll best friends.

Cecile (left) and Ivy were both retired in 2014. Image via CBS This Morning/YouTube.

But Melody, who will be released this summer, is hitting shelves all by herself, so hopefully she'll be around for much longer.

But even so, with just two African-American characters in their BeForever line, American Girl is ignoring a wealth of history.

Since dolls and characters like these offer an access point for children to learn and experience American history, it's vital that they don't fall into the trap of "the single story." There's more to black history than slavery (told through American Girl's Addy doll) and the civil rights movement, and it's important for young people of all backgrounds to understand the historical, political, and cultural movements that brought us to where we are today.

Here are some characters and dolls from different periods in African-American history I'd love to see and purchase for the young people in my life.

1. Pearl Cooper — New York, New York, 1921

Pearl has always lived in Harlem, but her neighborhood has come alive with the sights and sounds of fresh voices and new faces. Because her mother runs a boarding house, Pearl, a young aspiring writer, gets to meet them all. What can these artists, poets, dancers, and musicians teach her about telling her own story?

What would young Pearl ask Josephine Baker? Find out in this book that doesn't exist yet. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

2. Bessie Wilborn — Clarksdale, Mississippi, 1935

Bessie's father is a tenant farmer, working off the land and going deep into debt. Her mother teaches reading and writing to children and adults in their small town. But Bessie dreams of being an inventor and tinkers with tin cans and scrap wood all day. Her father insists she hold tight to her dreams, but when he loses his land and the Wilborns are forced to move, will Bessie have to abandon her goals to help provide for her family?

Photo by Russell Lee/U.S. Farm Security Administration.

3. Amaya Lewis — Cleveland, Ohio, 2014

Amaya's world turns upside down when her older brother's best friend is killed by police. Suddenly, Amaya's once quiet neighborhood is full of demonstrations, marches, and sirens. Her family is heartbroken, and no one understands, especially her best friend Darcy, who doesn't get what any of this has to do with race. Her parents urge her to stand up for what she believes in, but what does she believe in?

Amaya could be a lot like Zaniyah Siddell, 8, seen here, who protested at the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C., last year. Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images.

This is just a small selection of characters and stories rooted in African-American history.

There's so much more to explore, and hopefully, companies (American Girl or otherwise) will take notice and continue to empower and encourage young people through creative play.

Go behind the scenes with "CBS This Morning" to see how Melody came to life.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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