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Lost LA

Shindana Toy Company: Changing the American Doll Industry

Season 4 Episode 6

The Watts riots (also known as the Watts Uprising) left South Los Angeles in social and economic distress. In its wake, Operation Bootstrap, a non-profit community-based organization was formed, with hopes of facilitating change through community empowerment. This episode explores the lasting impact of one Operation Bootstrap initiative, the Shindana Toy Company, which left a lasting mark on the American doll industry by manufacturing ethnically correct black dolls. We visit doll collector Billie Green, meet with former Operation Bootstrap organizers David Crittendon and Marva Maxey, and hear about the enduring legacy of Operation Bootstrap from the women of the Conner family, who once made clothing for Shindana dolls, It’s a story of community strength and economic revival — and one that, outside South L.A.’s black community, is barely known.

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