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20

SATURDAY

My older sister named one of her cocoa-colored dollies Free. She talked to the 3-foot-tall Free, dressed her in her own clothes, and clipped all of her silky brown hair (believing it would actually grow back). She even convinced me, three years her junior, that my middle name was Free. So much for undying love….Free is presently bald, beheaded, in the buff, and collecting dust in the attic. Despite my sister’s fickle fancy, black dolls like Free were once rare and revolutionary. During apartheid, they were prohibited in South Africa; my pre-civil-rights-era, South Carolina-born mother never owned a doll made in her own image. Times change. Today, artists craft intricate black dolls with voluptuous lips, broad noses, and ‘locks—not just white dolls dipped in chocolate. Characters like Mary McCleod Bethune and Ralph Bunche, along with at least 2,000 other styles of vinyl, plastic, and porcelain dolls, will be on view at the “Dolls of Color on Parade” show and sale from noon until 7 p.m. at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Conference Center, 4301 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $4. (703) 228-6960. (Nefretiti Makenta)