An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win
I’m about to type a sentence that makes me sad. It’s 2016 and the topic of racism and civil rights is a very important subject that needs to be addressed and discussed delicately with young children sooner rather than later. I use the word “delicately” not because I am trying to skirt around or avoid the subject, and I’m certainly not trying to lessen the severity whatsoever, but I truly believe children aren’t born with such hatred — it’s learned. And it’s learned at home. Over the years, as Kiddo grew up my husband and I made a concerted effort and avoided using any racial identifiers when describing people. That might not sound like a big deal, but we didn’t want to call attention to anyones physical appearances.
We would say, “The family in the grey house on the corner.” Not, “The Italian / Jewish / Black family in the corner house,” which is the norm from where I come from. Now let me be very clear, it might be common, but that doesn’t mean it is right or should be necessarily accepted. To some, this might not seem like a big deal, but I grew up with identifiers and I knew very early on that I never wanted my daughter to “see” people for how they were born, I wanted her to see them for who they are.
Then the inevitable happened. Kiddo wanted to read Huckleberry Finn over the summer and I knew at some point we were going to have to have a real conversation about racism and tolerance. I couldn’t think of a better opportunity to drive home the importance, but I wasn’t exactly sure how. Around the same time, American Girl released there newest Be Forever doll, Melody Ellison, and I was so grateful to American Girl for tackling this subject.
Kiddo fell in love with the Melody Ellison 3 book set (My Journey With Melody) and discussing her story helped me navigate tough territory and tackle the conversation head on in a lite and airy, yet sophisticated manner that drove home the significance using words and situations a 9 year old could understand. Melody’s story opened up a healthy line of communication that made my daughter eager to learn more in support of her newest friend.
Last night, Kiddo and I were fortunate enough to attend the Los Angeles premiere and after-party for Melody’s movie, Melody, 1963: Love Has to Win, an American Girl Story, produced by Amazon Video. What an incredible movie. Marsai Martin (Black-ish) was everything we could hope for and captured 10-year old Melody’s story so beautifully. Her delivery touched the hearts of everyone in the audience and resonated long after we returned home. Between her and Idra Victor who plays Marsai’s on-screen mother, An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win, is a period piece that is just as important in this day in age as it was in 1963 Detroit during the civil rights movement.
“Melody’s eyes are opened to the racial inequality surrounding her, including the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing. As a result, her belief in the “indivisible” promise of our country’s Pledge of Allegiance comes into question as she challenges her teacher on the validity of this given the horrific tragedy. After an emotional journey of self-reflection, her mother gives her the courage she needs by instilling in her that love brings out the best in everyone; reminding Melody that it’s important to “stand up for what’s right, even when it’s hard or scary.”
For those interested in learning more about Melody, 1963: Love Has to Win, an American Girl Story, we’re pleased to share that on October 21st the movie will be made available on Amazon Prime Video.
Related articles: How-to Save on American Girl Dolls
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