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Mattel Immortalizes NASW Social Work Pioneer Ida B. Wells as Barbie Doll

Ida B Wells doll

Photo courtesy of Mattel

National Association of Social Workers (NASW)  Social Work Pioneer, journalist and activist Ida B. Wells has been honored by toymaker Mattel with her very own Barbie doll.

According to Barbie’s Twitter account, Wells, a social worker, is a part of Mattel’s Inspiring Women series and spotlights “heroes who inspire us to dream big. Born into slavery, Wells was a journalist, activist and suffragist, telling the stories of injustices that Black people faced in her lifetime.”

The doll is set to hit store Monday, Jan. 17—Martin Luther King Day.

This isn’t the first time she’s been honored. Wells also appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 1990 and has a “distinguished lecture and performance series” named after her at Spellman College in Atlanta. The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum is located at her birthplace in Holly Springs, MS.

Dressed in a Victorian Era frilly, high-neck black dress, her hair in a bun on top of her head, the Ida B. Wells doll holds a copy of a newspaper.

“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,” Barbie said in an Instagram post.

According to NASW’s Social Work Pioneer index, Wells “was an integral part of the progressive movement, using her passion about social justice and her skills as a journalist to fight for racial and gender equality. She was the first person to document the lynching of African-Americans and lead many anti-lynching campaigns.”

She also “worked with other organizers of her time to create the foundation for modern social work.” She wrote articles as a way of fighting the injustices of her day. “She helped found the Alpha Suffrage League, a group for African-American women who supported suffrage and challenged the National American Woman Suffrage Association because of their exclusion of African American women in their movement,” according to the database.

Wells was also instrumental in founding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The Negro Fellowship League, and other groups that advocated for equal rights for all Americans.

Born a slave in July of 1862 to parents who were also political activists, Wells worked hand in hand with Frederick Douglass, Mary Church Terrell, and W.E.B. DuBois. She had four children with her husband, attorney and newspaper editor Ferdinand Barnett.

Wells died of kidney disease in 1931.

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