First African American Spelling Bee Winner Makes History

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Zaila Avant-garde’s last name is fitting for the new spelling bee child prodigy.
Avant-garde, a 14-year-old basketball wonder of Louisiana, just became the first African American winner in the nearly 100-year history of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Detroit News reported.


On Thursday night, Avant-garde made history. The only other past Black winner (and the only winner from outside the United States) Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998, according to the article.

“I’m hoping that within the next few years, I can see a little bit of an influx of African Americans, and not many Hispanic people, either, so I’m hoping to see them there, too,” she said in the story.

Zaila was Black Girl Magic personified as she did her spelling thing, showing others that it can be done — all the while twirling and leaping in joy after spelling the winning word “murraya,”  a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees (family Rutaceae).

Read the full story here.


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