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Doll Honors Ida B. Wells
News Bytes 01/17/2022 11 Comments

Toymaker Mattel releases a new Barbie doll honoring Ida B. Wells today. The doll is designed after the black journalist and civil rights activist. A statement on Barbie’s social media says that Wells brought “light to the stories of injustice that black people faced in her lifetime.”

The doll is dressed in a long, dark dress with a lace collar. She comes with a miniature replica of the Memphis Free Speech newspaper. Wells was co-owner and editor of that publication.

The new Barbie doll is available beginning today—Martin Luther King, Jr., Day—a day for remembering the necessary social changes in America that were still being addressed even a century after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.

This doll is part of Mattel’s Inspiring Women Series. The collection is meant to honor historical and present-day role models for girls.

Just who was Ida Bell Wells? She was born into slavery in 1862. The Emancipation Proclamation decreed her and other enslaved people free about six months later. In 1884, Wells began her activism by suing a railroad. She had refused to move to a train car for African Americans after buying a first class ticket and was forcibly removed. Though she won at the local level, a federal court overturned the ruling.

Wells began writing about race and politics. She later became co-owner of two newspapers, The Memphis Free Speech and Headlight and Free Speech. Wells started investigating lynchings after a white mob killed three black men in Memphis, Tennessee, where she lived. After one editorial, angry, vengeful people destroyed her newspaper office. Threats against her life forced her to move to Chicago, Illinois.

Wells continued to advocate for justice on behalf of African Americans. After she married Ferdinand L. Barnett in 1895, the two worked together for civil rights while raising four children. Wells also fought for women’s suffrage, despite facing racism within the movement.

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. — James 2:1

(On the left, the Ida B. Wells Barbie holds a miniature newspaper. On the right is a photo of Ida B. Wells taken around 1893. Jason Tidwell/Mattel)

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Most recent comments

1st comment

That is a neat idea to do with the Barbie dolls. I never really played with Barbies though. Also, I don't like how the Barbie doll has way more make-up on her face than Ms. Wells does in the picture. Also, with the thing on the train, if she was going to be forced to move to the African American car, why was she allowed to buy a first class ticket in the first place? The same thing happened to Fredrick Douglass.

2nd Comment

Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of her (I think I’ve spent to long studying ancient history lol). Its cool what Mattel is doing, I looked some of them up and they have some neat ones in this line.
@Riley Yeah I was wondering about the train thing too, and I agree with you about the makeup

Happy MLK day!

Happy MLK day!

i had a few babie dolls

i had a few babie dolls growing up.
riley i know and she probaly already knew hat she couldnt ride in the first class
America use to be so cruel .

5th Comment

That's cool!! I've never heard of her but she sounds like an amazing woman.

this is London

I meant Barbie XD.

This is Mylee

I think this is so cool. It keeps history alive , the only prob about this is if they make present time women then it may be ppl that little girls shouldn't look up to . they started making bigger barbie dolls bc girls were comparing barbie with their body image. So the company made bigger dolls.


Barbie dolls have gone wayyyyyyyy downhill in the last, lets say...10 years... (⓿_⓿) <(_ _)>


She does NOT look 31...more like twelve. (The photo, not the doll)


She does NOT look 31...more like twelve. (The photo, not the doll)


If Barbie dolls usually came with historical outfits like that, I would still be into Barbies. I have a lot of Barbie dolls from when my sister and I were little, but they're mostly Disney princesses. I love that dress!

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