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Black Women in History Portrait Series: American Girl Addy Walker

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I’ve had such a great time working on my Black Women in History for black history month portrait series. There are so many great women I want to pay homage to. Sometimes I come across one of my inspiration photos and I have to shoot it right then and there. Sometimes I come across the look in my closet and I’m reminded that I bought it because I was inspired by…. I am definitely inspired and look up to my elders, their experience, their knowledge, their accomplishment that paved the way. I am also inspired by the young women coming up. From young women like Zendaya and Amandla Stenberg using their platform to insight young people to be the change to young women like my mentee Shilpa who is changing the jewelry game with Shiffon Co. and paying it forward. This latest portrait is a bit of a combination of young and old. Addy Walker.


Addy Walker is a fictional character from the American Girl book series. Before the American Girl dolls were the phenomenon that they are now, the brand focused on several novel series, each one about a young woman in different epochs of American history. My favorites? Samantha Parkington, the posh, mischievous Victorian and Addy Walker, the former slave who ran away with her mother from North Carolina to Philadelphia for freedom in 1864. The story starts with Addy’s daily life as a young girl on a plantation. Though written for children it did not sugar coat the horrors and dehumanization Addy faced daily but yet still very digestible for children: for example, Addy being made to eat worms by an overseer who accused her of slacking in her job of deworming the tobacco plants. I remember how the book starts so vividly. As we say at Through Our Lens, “Representation matters” and I saw my face in Addy’s as reflected in the American Girls Collection, my curls in Addy’s, even Addy’s cowrie shell jewelry. Addy’s story had equal footing in the American Girls history as a daughter of the revolution. Sure it’s a children’s novel, but that is major. Before I read the diary of Frederick Douglas, I read Addy’s. Here’s my homage to this young black woman who’s story was pivotal to me, fictional though it may be.

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