Educational Black and Latina Dolls that Teach History

The quest to find multicultural dolls and toys for kids that teach about Black and Latina accomplishments can be difficult.

Latina doll: Celia Cruz - Latinx history educational toy
Maritere with her Celia Cruz doll, celebrating Latina history!

Happily, experienced educator, Maritere Mix, has started a new venture to fill this need, hand-crafting educational Latina and Black dolls in either pre-made or “sew your own” form. Read on to learn more!

Historical education on the back of the Shirley Chisholm doll
The educational Shirley Chisholm doll.

Teaching Traveling: Ms. Mix, tell us about your background as an educator-artist.

Maritere: My name is Maritere, and I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Chelsea, MA. I have been a Latin teacher since 2003, spending 12 years at Boston Public Schools, and the past 5 at Nashoba Brooks School.

My career as an educator is a large part of my identity, but I have always found time to paint, to draw, and to create through sewing. 

Historical education on the back of the Shirley Chisholm doll.
Historical education on the back of the Shirley Chisholm doll.

TT: Wonderful. Tell us about your new educational Black and Latina doll venture! How did you come up with the idea, what is the process like to make them, and what are you hoping will come out of this?

M: My mother used to sew all my dresses as a little girl, and when I became an auntie in 2007, I caught the sewing bug when my husband bought me a sewing machine for Christmas. I started with clothes for my niece and nephew, but soon I started selling to friends and families and others through word of mouth.

Sojourner Truth doll for Black history educational toys
Maritere with her Sojourner Truth doll

As the children around me got older, I shifted away from dolls and clothes to dolls and plushies. How I started my new educational Black and Latina doll venture is kind of a long story.

Educational Sojourner Truth doll
A sew-your-own Sojourner Truth doll.

One day in 2018, I doodled some pictures of famous Black women… I am not sure why. Then in 2019 I started to experiment with the digital drawing app, Procreate, and I thought: What if I drew the famous Black women and set it up as a plushy or doll? And what if I made the doll more than just something to play with, and made it something informative? And what if I used Spoonflower to print out the fabric and sell the dolls?

Dolores Huerta and Celia Cruz: Latina History Dolls!
The plans for Dolores Huerta and Celia Cruz Latina History Dolls!

It was really just a spiral of ideas that brought me to this one product. There is such a LACK of educational dolls that feature actual Black and Brown women and are affordable. I hope to have a whole line of famous Black women and Latina women.

Right now I’m working on expanding my Latina doll section, adding Dolores Huerta, Ellen Ochoa, Celia Cruz, Frida Kahlo, and Sonia Sotomayor. There have also been requests for others that are in the works, and you can feel free to request Black and Latina historical figures, yourself!

Latina doll, soft sewn toy, educational
Maritere’s Dolores Huerta soft sewn doll.

My dream is that every classroom will have these dolls and use them to teach students from an early age about the lives of these women, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month, or Women’s History Month, or Black History Month — but all throughout the year.

TT: Yes! I see you have a new Kamala Harris doll?

M: Indeed I do! Kamala Harris is making history as the first Black vice president of the United States, so families can now order a Kamala doll so children can be inspired! Below you can see how I plan out the toy’s design:

Kamala Harris doll
You can buy this Kamala Harris doll.

TT: So important! What reactions are you getting about your educational Latina and Black dolls?

M: Within my circle, people love the dolls, and I get a lot of positive feedback. Right now, I have a shop set up on Etsy (click to see it) featuring the “sew-your-own” fabric panels for dolls like Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, and Septima Poinsette-Clark. I am also offering a finished, sewn version of the Chisholm doll. I will expand my offerings as time goes on.

Educational Septima Poinsette-Clark doll
Make your own educational Septima Poinsette-Clark doll!

TT: Excellent! What advice do you have for families and educators looking to do racial equity work or champion multicultural education?

M: My advice to families and educators is: start where you can and go from there. We spend a lot of time trying to surround kids with a physical space that nurtures them, both at home and in school. We make choices whenever we purchase something for that space.

Latina dolls
On Pinterest? Pin this to spread the word about these great Black and Latina dolls!

In the classroom, there is so much missing from our curricula about Black and Brown people… But if you can start by introducing something that kids love, like a doll, to their physical spaces, you are sparking curiosity and conversations that may not otherwise happen.

Start small; start with a doll! Feel free to browse my Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeByMix and to be in touch through the comments section here.

Educational Latina and Black dolls that teach history
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TT: Thanks so much, Maritere! Readers, what questions or comments do you have about these great educational Black and Latina dolls?

13 thoughts on “Educational Black and Latina Dolls that Teach History”

    • Thank you so much for your feedback! It’s so important for students to learn about HERstory and not just HIStory. Please let me know if you have any suggestions on what other Black and Latina women to include.

      Reply
  1. Such a great tool to teach kids racial equality! A much needed social reform. I hope parents promote these dolls as toys! Love it.

    Reply
  2. I love these soooo much. They are not only cool to look at, but are an awesome tool that can be used to teach racial equity to our youth. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. Lillie!!! Thank you so much for writing this and for all your support. I am hoping these dolls get into as many homes as possible, either as a finished doll sewn by me or as a sew your own.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome! I’m so excited to see this much-needed venture take off!!! I’m also curious to hear if readers have dream suggestions of new Black and Latina dolls to add to the collection in the future…

      Reply

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