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Loretta Whitfield, Whose Black Doll Was ‘Ahead of Its Time,’ Dies at 79


In the early 1980s, Melvin Whitfield was working for a health nonprofit in West Africa when he came to a realization: Few of the children he encountered had dolls, and the dolls he did see were modeled after white European faces and bodies.Mr. Whitfield, who is Black, returned to Washington in 1983, around the time his girlfriend, Loretta Thomas, was coming to to her own doll-inspired despair after trying to find a toy for her niece.It was the height of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze, and toy stores were filled with their cherubic white faces; the few Black dolls …

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