14-year-old, Zaila Avant-Garde makes history as the 1st Black American Spelling Bee Champ.

With the correct spelling of the word, Murraya, New Orleans teen, Zaila Avant-Garde made history becoming the first black American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica was the first black person to win the Scripps Spelling Bee in 1988.

In a beautiful display of black excellence and black girl magic, Zaila Avant-Garde jumped for joy when she was announced the winner and champion of the spelling bee. Already a record holder, the teen is in the Guinness Book of World Records for her dribbling skills.  She described the spelling bee as a hobby with basketball as her passion.

The Scripps spelling bee was canceled for the first time in its 90+ year history in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The competition was held virtually with the remaining finalists competing in person.   First Lady, Jill Biden was also on hand for the competition. Initially beginning with over 200 spellers, Zaila Avant-Garde navigated through words most adults would be unable to spell correctly.

The 14-year-old 8th grader has no intention of slowing down her ambition. She says she hopes to attend Harvard University and play basketball, work for NASA or coach professional basketball.  She also says she is contemplating a career in neuroscience or gene editing.  She takes home $50K and a trophy for her win but her name is now forever solidified in the history books.

Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20.


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