Thursday, February 25, 2021

Celebrating Black History Month with 'Katherine Johnson' and 'Rosa Parks'.

   I haven't posted much, so I bet you were all thinking I was going to miss Black History Month this year, weren't you? Well, it's coming down to the end of the month, but here I am! 

  I have had my eye on the Katherine Johnson doll for a while now. She was actually released in 2018. I have often said that I collect on a budget. The $30 price suggested I wait for Katherine to show up on clearance or a yard sale somewhere. Then, of course, she disappeared, as the new dolls in the 'Inspiring Women' series were released. But recently I spotted Katherine in a Black History Month display at Target. I was reminded how much I liked her, (and her glasses!), and I said to Ken how I have a birthday coming up, and if I got her before my birthday, she would make a great doll to post for Black History Month. He pretended to be ignoring me. Fortunately though, he had ordered her for me.

  I was surprised when Ken said he had bought her from Wamart.com. After we had spotted Katherine at a very out of our way Target that we only went to because Ivy needed something from Target and we had gone somewhere very out of the way to get something Ken wanted, I looked up where I might get her online, I saw that she was sold out on Walmart.com. I figured it was because she was a more than two year old doll, and Mattel had moved on to new dolls in the series. So I was surprised Ken got her, but still not expecting that when I opened the box, it wasn't a Katherine Johnson doll, but a Rosa Parks one!

  Ken swore he ordered the right doll. He got on Walmart.com, to see what happened. There was nothing saying what he had actually ordered. So he tried to order a Katherine Johnson doll, and found that it automatically changed the order to a Rosa Parks doll! It must have shown him Katherine, and changed it to Rosa, another doll in the 'Inspiring Women' series, without Ken noticing. So beware if you order from Walmart.com.

  I had to go to a Target, (Not all of them seem to have Katherine Johnson, but fortunately the closest one did.), and buy a Katherine Johnson doll. Rosa will have to go back, because two $30 dolls in one go is too much to spend. But since she's here now, I thought we'd have a look at her too.


 Born in 1913, Rosa Parks, as most people know, became a civil rights icon, when, in 1955, she refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus to a White woman. Rosa was employed as a seamstress at a department store at the time,  and was fired for her act of 'civil disobedience'. Her arrest led to the boycotting of Montgomery Alabama buses by African Americans for over a year. Rosa Parks became the face of the segregation movement in Alabama, not, according to Wikipedia, because she was the first to refuse to give up her seat to a White person, but because the local NAACP thought Rosa would be a good candidate to win her court case. 





  Rosa, who had served as secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP from 1944 to 1957, continued to be active in the civil right movement, serve as secretary to U.S. Representative John Conyers, write her autobiography, be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NAACO Spingarn Award, and was the first woman to lie in honour at the Capital Rotunda.

  Irony abounds. While secretary of the Montgomery NAACP, Rosa faced discrimination based on her sex. Her boss, local NAACP leader Edgar Nixon, was quoted as saying, "Women don't need to be nowhere but in the kitchen." While the segregating of the buses was ridiculous itself, there was the further unfairness of the fact that the seat Ms. Parks was asked to give up, and arrested for not doing so, was in the back of the bus, in the seats relegated to African Americans. (The White seats were full. This reminds me of the treatment of Native Americans. 'Hey, remember that land we gave you, which was actually yours in the first place because you were here first, and not ours to give you? Well we discovered oil on it, so we want it back.') 

  Rosa passed away in 2005.

  As for Rosa's doll, released in 2019, remember she has to stay in her box because she has to be returned.



Rosa is dressed in a floral and leaf print cotton dress...


 


... 'sensible shoes'...


... white gloves...


...and her famous 'wool' coat and pill box hat.






And don't forget her glasses.


Her glasses are sewn to her head.

In her hand is... a clutch purse? Yes. According to Mattel, that's what that is.




Her hair is pulled back, and there are painted on wisps of hair around her hairline.


   She also comes with a three part stand. The glasses and the coat, which are two things I usually love anyway, are my favourite accessories. Mattel describes this doll as having a 'posable torso w/articulated knees. I'm not sure if this is a new sculpt for this doll, or if it's just the way it's painted. Barb, do you know?

  Now for Katherine Johnson. Not to belittle Rosa Parks' contributions to the world, but have you ever read anything about Katherine Johnson? She's amazing! 


Born Creola Katherine Coleman, in West Virginia in 1918, Katherine showed incredible math skills as a child. Unfortunately, the county she lived in didn't offer public schooling to African Americans after grade eight. Katherine's family was forced to find schooling for their children in another town, and Katherine was enrolled in high school at Institute, West Virginia, at the age of ten. The family lived in Institute during the school year, returning home to White Sulfur Springs when school was not in session. Katherine graduated from high school at the age of fourteen. She then enrolled in West Virginia State University, where she took every math course available. New math courses were added just for her. In 1937, at age 18, Katherine graduated Summa Cum Laude, with degrees in mathematics and French. She accepted a teaching job, but left after two years to enroll in a graduate math program.

  After time off to raise her children and do her graduate studies at the West Virginia University, where she was on of the first three African Americans to be accepted, Katherine returned to work in mathematics. She accepted a job at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in 1953. She worked in a pool of women, reading data from the 'black boxes' from airplanes, and performing other mathematical jobs. When Katherine was borrowed by the all male flight research team, she so impressed them with her skills that they kept her on the team. For five years Katherine worked as an analyzing 'computer'. Eventually Katherine worked in the Guidance and Control Division. There was plenty of racial and sex discriminiation, with Katherine and her fellow black female 'computers' being forced to use separate restrooms, working, and eating areas from the White workers. 

  In 1958 Nasa began to use non-human 'computers'. Katherine worked as an aerospace technologist from 1958 until she retired in 1986. When computers were used for the first time in space travel, to calculate John Glenn's orbit around the Earth, Glenn asked that Katherine  to verify the computer's numbers, and refused to fly until she had! In 1961 she calculated the trajectory of the first American manned flight in space, (Alan Shephard.) She plotted space navigation charts. She was even part of the team that navigated the trajectory for the flight that landed on the moon in 1969. She also helped get the crew of the failed Apollo 13 mission safely back to Earth with her back up procedures. That's one pretty awesome woman.

  Katherine later worked on the space shuttle and plans for a mission to Mars. Katherine assed away last year, at the age of 101.

  Here's the doll.





  Fresh out of the box, and free of her insert, she still had a plastic thing attached to her back like a wrong side out turtle shell. In fact, when I laid her on the couch she rolled over just like a turtle on it's back.

Her box insert is a picture of the Nasa control room.


She wears a pink cotton dress with a white collar and buttons on  the bodice...





...and a space ship on the collar...


...a black belt...


...black heels...



...a 'pearl' necklace and earrings...


...her Nasa I.D. badge...

It's on a silver string that ties in back.

...and her glasses!


I love these glasses! My mom wore glasses almost exactly like these.





 

 Her glasses have non-collapsable legs, and are all one piece. The only difference is that the frames are painted and the lenses aren't. They are sewn to her head.


  According to Mattel she has a Fashionista standard torso with articulated arms.


She's jointed at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hips.



Her legs are the hard, non-bendable type. They can spread out from the hips though, for some poses with attitude.

Her face mold is described as the MOTM Nichelle sculpt.





  

She has one piece of hair pulled back and held with an elastic band.



I found when I saw the dolls at the store that there is a wide range of quality with the hair. It's one reason I don't regret having to go to the store and get a doll. Some have tight curls on the forehead. Some have a big loose wad of curls there. There were some dolls with loose chunks of hair in the back and at the sides. Some dolls only had a half curl at the edge of the forehead. Some had huge fluffy heads of hair. I saw the absolute perfect doll the first time I saw her in Target. This one is the second best, with a nice tight bunch of curls on her forehead.






  Maybe all those differences are because her head isn't caked solid with hair spray. A lot of dolls now days have hair that's rock hard with crap. I was glad to see,(or rather, feel.)  that her hair is just short of stiff. Of course,  I'm not good with hair, so this might not be the blessing I think it is! I recently found that my Made to Move doll's hair is disgustingly greasy feeling.

She comes with a certificate of authenticity.


She has a three piece stand.



  I really like this doll. Everything about her is great, with the exception of the cheap molded plastic necklace. I think since she's directed at adult collector's she should have had a bead necklace. It wouldn't have affected the price that much, would it?

  So there you have it. I'll see you soon. I confess to buying some stuff recently...





4 comments:

  1. Oh, I'd keep Rosa too, since your husband got her for you! These ladies were both class acts. They changed their own lives and the lives of others for the better, and they did it without hurting anyone. I love it.

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    1. Not a choice really. He thought he was ordering Katherine, and the agreement for going to get Katherine was that Rosa would be returned. I already bought myself other birthday presents 'from' Ken anyway! Plus I don't know what else he has planned. I'm sure there's more. He always spoils me.He may have me end up keeping Rosa actually.

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  2. Charming dolls.I love Rosa's green dress and overcoat, but Katherine's glasses. If I got a Katherine I would give her a sweater,she looks cold.Maybe a proper handbag to put something like a notepad in.I like the dolls but might have to wait to get them as too many "grail dolls" have popped up.Great blog,Happy Birthday.

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    1. Thabks for the nice comment and the birthday wishes. I think Katherine would look good in what I call a 'teacher's sweater, one of those sweaters with the round designs woven in, that teachers wore when I was a kid in the late 60's and early 70's.

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Thanks in advance for your comments.