Child Prodigy, Zaila Avant-garde, Becomes First African American Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion

by Shine My Crown Staff
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This morning, 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde is waking up to see her name in the headlines.

It’s becoming a common thing in Zaila’s world.

On Thursday, she made history again by becoming Scripps National Spelling Bee’s first African-American winner after spelling the winning word, “Murraya,” a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees.

Murraya is more commonly referred to as “orange jasmine.”

Zaila also spelled the words “querimonious,” “solidungulate,” and “Nepeta,” — phew. That’s a lot.

Zaila’s win is twofold as she is also the first student from Louisiana to win the prestigious bee.

“To finally have it, like the best possible outcome, it was really good,” Zaila told “Good Morning America.”

She hopes that many more will follow in her footsteps.

“I’m hoping that in a few years,” she said, “I’ll see a whole lot more African American females, and males too, doing well in the Scripps Spelling Bee,” which she called a “gate-opener to being interested in education.”

Zaila will receive a $50,000 cash prize for her historic win.

According to the video posted by the Guinness World Records, Zaila dreams of becoming a professional basketball player in the WNBA.

“I think the more that the achievements and triumphs of women are promoted and publicized, the more likely it is that other girls all around the world will see that they can do any and everything that they put their minds to,” she said last May.

She currently holds three titles in the Guinness Book of Records:

  • Most balls juggled in one minute with four basketballs
  • Most dribbles in 30 seconds with four basketballs
  • Most basketballs dribbled by one person simultaneously

We will be seeing a lot more of Zaila in the future. We don’t doubt she will go on to break many more records.

Jamaican contestant Jody-Anne Maxwell was the competition’s first-ever Black winning, nabbing the award in 1998.

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