American Girl debuts new civil-rights era doll, Melody Ellison

The company aims to explore the experience of African-Americans living through the civil rights era with its Melody Ellison doll and her stories.

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"She is a singer and loves to perform in church with her family, and in her community," the company said in an introduction to the character. "Her stories are set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, which was gathering momentum, and the music scene, including the success and popularity of Motown Records and its artists."

As Melody's story progresses, she becomes more aware of how racial inequities affect her family, neighbors and the African-American community.

“She is inspired by Dr. King to have a dream of her own: to lift her voice for fairness and equality,” the company said.

American Girl unveiled the doll in interviews with CBS Monday.

"When we learn about the civil rights movement, we learn about a handful of really important people but the movement was led and driven by average, ordinary Americans like Melody," Mark Speltz, senior historical for American Girl, told CBS.

Since the company's launch in 1986, more than 27 million American Girl dolls have found their way into homes.