Ida B. Wells, an educator, journalist, and civil rights activist, is known as one of the most prominent disruptors of her time. And activism runs in her family. As a tribute and effort to continue the work she inspired, Barbie, with the help of Wells’ family, has created a new Inspiring Women Ida B. Wells doll dedicated to her legacy.
There was a time when the expectation of little girls was to sit quietly and look pretty, but Wells, having been born during the Civil War, was anything but quiet. She didn’t have the luxury of looking away from the injustices Black people endured because she experienced them firsthand. With a background in education, Wells started writing investigative articles to educate the nation on the racism and violence in the south. Specifically women’s suffrage and the lynching of Black men.
“The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.” - Ida B. Wells
Barbie created the Wells doll holding a miniature replica of the newspaper that she co-owned and edited — the Memphis Free Speech. She also started another paper, Headlight And Free Speech. Wells’ lived every aspect of her work by the First Amendment, and despite threats for writing the truth, she continued. Wells went on to co-found the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Her life not only affected generations after her, but will hopefully persuade daughters in the future. Girls, especially Black girls, can bravely speak up for what is right, and can always accomplish what they want. Even if that means creating their own platform.
For kids, a doll isn’t just a toy, it’s a form of expression when they can change their clothes and create scenes with them. And it can even influence their perception. This portrayal gives girls a glimpse at history and what is possible. “It’s important to our family that young girls have the opportunity to learn more about her history, impact, and activism so that they can dream big, just like she did,” Michelle Duster, Wells’ great-granddaughter tells Romper in an interview.
Duster is also a writer and advocate for racial and gender equity. She and her brother worked closely with Barbie to ensure that this project reflected their great grandmother’s legacy. The family worked to protect, preserve, and promote her story. And they “couldn’t be happier” with the results.
“It’s an honor to have my great-grandmother’s legacy and spirit embodied in her doll through the Barbie Inspiring Women Series. Working with such an empowering brand allows us to continue to share my great-grandmother’s truth and enduring legacy with the younger generation on an incredibly large scale,” Duster says.
“I hope that young girls are inspired by the launch of the doll and empowered by my great-grandmother’s courage, strength and fortitude to speak up for what they believe in. All these years later, she is still an incredible role model for the younger generation to look up to and aspire to be like,” Duster says.
The Ida B. Wells doll will join an incredible line-up in the Barbie Inspiring Women Series, including Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale, Billie Jean King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Sally Ride, Rosa Parks, and Ella Fitzgerald. You can purchase the Ida B. Wells Barbie starting January 17, 2022.