NAACP co-founder, anti-lynching activist and suffragist Ida B. Wells is the latest figure honored with her own signature Barbie doll by toy company Mattel. Wells rose to prominence for her work as an investigative journalist covering lynchings and other instances of racial segregation and inequality.
Wells’ doll is the latest addition to Barbie’s “Inspiring Women” doll series, which features the figurine interpretation of Wells sporting an 1800s-style high-neck blue dress, with her natural styled atop her head.
According to the National Park Service, Wells was born into slavery in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, the oldest daughter of James and Lizzie Wells. The writer was later freed due to the Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War.
A life-changing moment for Wells came when she was traveling by train from Memphis to Woodstock, Tennessee, where Wells was a teacher. She was forcibly removed from the train after she refused to give up her seat for one in a segregated car.
Wells would sue Southwest Railroad Co. in Chesapeake, Ohio, with the court, in 1884, ruling in her favor and that decision being overturned in the state’s supreme court.
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them,” the toy brand wrote in a statement on Instagram alongside a gallery of product shots of the new doll. Snaps included Wells holding a copy of a newspaper from the publication she co-owned and served as editor for, Memphis Free Speech. Other shots showed the pioneer’s laced finished dress and black buttoned boots.
The brand wrote that Wells “Grew to become a journalist, activist, and suffragist – bringing light to the stories of injustice that Black people faced in her lifetime, and co-founding several organizations including the NAACP.”
“When kids learn about heroes like Ida B. Wells, they don’t just imagine a better future – they know they have the power to make it come true,” Mattel added.
Barbie’s “Inspiring Women” series is dedicated to spotlighting heroes who paved the way for generations of girls to dream big and make a difference. Wells now joins civil rights activist Rosa Parks, singer Ella Fitzgerald and poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, who recently became the first Black woman who will appear on the U.S.-minted quarter.
The Ida B. Wells doll will be available at major retailers by Monday, Jan. 17, on Martin Luther King Day.
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