Miami Gardens, Fla – Graffiti sprayed, life- sized doll boxes, bearing words of empowerment, like peace, educated, beautiful and Black Girl Magic lined the floor of the Betty Ferguson Recreational Center’s gym in Miami Gardens last Sunday. Vendors offering everything from sweets to delight your taste buds to information to appease your brain surrounded the circumference of the lament floors. The stage was set for the 2nd annual Living Doll Experience (LDE) presented by Zoe’s Dolls.
The free community event serves as the precursor to the yearly doll giveaway conducted by the pint-sized CEO of Zoe’s Dolls, Zoe Terry, who started her own non-profit when she was just five years old. Every year starting on her birthday, October 19 through December 20, Terry asks family, friends and the community to donate new dolls of color. The dolls are then distributed to little girls in need across Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Georgia, Texas, Haiti and Africa during the holiday season. Five years later Terry’s mission is still going strong.
While still considered to be in its infancy stages, the LDE has quickly garnered the reputation of a must-attend event. LDE works for five months with community girls, transforming them into life-sized living dolls. The end result is an explosive show that combines music, arts, community organizations and food, all offered free to the community. This year’s show was an eclectic burst of fashion, music and dance combined to bring to life the image of the powerful, beautiful and undeniably gifted Black girl.
This year Terry wanted to kick-off doll season in a big way. The LDE featured 14 girls that were cased in life-sized doll boxes. This year’s Dolls had a statement to make. In the wake of senseless violence in the community, religious persecution and sexism, the Dolls gave a very powerful performance. The dolls were adorned in black gabardine fabric with shiny gold buttons. Their feet bore tightly laced up, midnight black, combat boots. Their faces were stoic as they stared out at the crowd, waiting in anticipation to see what would happen. Then the sound of Beyonce’s Freedom came blaring boldly out of the speakers. The message was clear—freedom was what these dolls wanted.
“So much violence is happening in the world. We wanted to say something strong and powerful,” said Terry. “People think that just because we are kids that we don’t know what is happening or understand what is going on, but we do and we have something to say. No child should have to be killed in the street. We should be free to live! The things that are happening in the world must stop and we want our voices to be heard.”
Their voices were indeed heard was as no relevant subject was left unturned during the four-minute performance. There were even dolls that wore the Hijab. Though small in stature, the dolls made a major statement.
The event was co-sponsored by City of Miami Gardens’ Vice-Mayor Felicia Robinson; hosted, by Crystal Chanel and featured DJ Afro Nica. Renowned poet Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns presented a special poetry piece written specifically for the event. The audience was also left in awe after an electric belly dance performance from the artist Flavia.
This event also included a drumline performance by The Alliance for Musical Arts; with one of the biggest highlights being dance performances by Keith Wilson, Edwin Holland Dance Ensemble and Next Generation Dance. There was also a henna artist and face painting by famed Haitian artist Sophia Lacroix.
Miami Gardens’ leaders were on hand for the event as well. Welcomes and acknowledgements were given by City of Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, Council- woman Felicia Robinson and Councilman Rodney Harris.
“This event is very important to me. The work that young Zoe is doing is amazing,” said Robinson. “I support her fully and believe in her mission.”
Terry collected over 100 dolls from the LDE kickoff. Since starting Terry has given out over 4,000 dolls to little girls in need.
“It’s so important for little girls like me to know that we are beautiful and that we are powerful,” said Terry. “I’m always so excited about having this event, it’s so awesome.” To find out more about Zoe’s Dolls or you can donate a doll, please visit their website at www.zoesdolls.com or call 754.300.7964.