Jul 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

14-year-old becomes 1st African American to win Scripps National Spelling Bee

Zaila Avant-garde

Zaila Avant-garde. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde on Thursday night became the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The big picture: Avant-garde's winning word was "murraya." First lady Jill Biden attended this year's finals, which were held in Orlando, Florida, after the coronavirus pandemic canceled last year's bee.

  • Avant-garde, who is from New Orleans and holds several Guinness world records for dribbling basketballs, wants to someday play in the WNBA, according to AP.
  • Chaitra Thummala, a 12-year-old from San Francisco, came in second place. Bhavana Madini, a 13-year-old from New York City, placed third.
  • The only previous Black winner in the event's 96-year history is Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica, who won in 1998.
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