SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — On the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, Barbie announced the creation of two unique “role model” dolls: Celia Cruz and Julia Alvarez. “Through their legendary careers and bravery in self-expression, Celia Cruz and Julia Alvarez continue to inspire generations of young Latinos to proudly tell their stories,” a statement from Barbie read.
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Cruz was a Cuban-American singer and one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century. In a career that spanned six decades, she became known internationally as the “Queen of Salsa”. Cruz was a true pioneer of AfroLatinidad, which focused on the African elements of her identity in a time when it wasn’t so popular to do so.
Over the course of 60 years, Cruz recorded more than 80 albums and songs, earned 23 Gold Records, and won five Grammys. Cruz died in 2003 after a battle with brain cancer — but her legacy lives on.
Alvarez is a Dominican-American poet, novelist, and activist. She is regarded as one of the most successful and significant Latina writers of her time. She has written novels, collections of poems, and numerous books for young readers.
Her awards include the Pura Belpré and Américas Awards, the Hispanic Heritage Award, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award. Additionally, she received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013.
Alvarez shared her thoughts on social media in reaction to becoming a Barbie. “Who knew I would grow up to become a Barbie? I’m so honored to have a one-of-a-kind me in celebration of #HispanicHeritageMonth, along with the iconic Celia Cruz! I hope this can encourage young Latinas to share their gifts with the world,” she wrote.
Barbie says the dolls were created to celebrate Cruz and Alvarez, but will not be available to purchase.
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 to honor the histories, cultures, and contributions of those who came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.