This Martin Luther King Day, a new historical action figure is being released. Mattel is launching a Barbie doll portraying Ida B. Wells.
The Washington Post reports that “Black American journalist, suffragist and anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells will have her likeness transformed into a Barbie doll to honor her historic achievements.
“Wells, who was born into slavery in Mississippi in 1862 during the Civil War, went on to break boundaries as a prominent suffragist fighting to expand the right to vote. Wells also won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for her ‘courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching’ and helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).”
Historical dolls and action figures have become quite popular among adult history fans, as well as children and teenagers.
Action figures depict major political and military leaders from many periods in world history: Ramses II, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Pope Innocent III, George Washington, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Napoléon Bonaparte, Karl Marx, Dwight Eisenhower, and The Beatles.
Historical action figures have been created for modern heroes of the Civil Rights movements, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Women’s Rights movements are celebrated with historical action figures of Susan B. Anthony and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as images of powerful women like Rosie the Riveter and Wonder Woman.
Some historical action figures have been created for major historical commemorations. For example, Playmobil launched a Martin Luther action figure to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Ninety-Five Theses in 2017.
Many graduate students and professors’ desks and bookshelves are now adorned with historical action figures.
The Washington Post article on the Ida B. Wells Barbie doll is available on its website.