NewsZaila Avant-garde: National Spelling Bee's first African American champion

Zaila Avant-garde: National Spelling Bee’s first African American champion

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Kolkata, India: A fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde became the first African American and only the second Black recipient of the National Spelling Bee Thursday night, in the 96-years history of the contest. 

After spelling the winning word, “murraya,” meaning a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees, Zaila twirled and leaped with delight.

Zaila classified spelling as a “side pastime,” despite the fact that she practiced for seven hours every day, the Associated Press reported. 

She is a basketball prodigy who aspires to play in the WNBA one day and owns three Guinness World Records for simultaneously dribbling several balls.

Throughout the content, Avant-garde surfed through the challenging spellings hurled to her.

And only one spelling ‘nepeta’ that means Old World mint genus, gave her some trouble. 

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Image courtesy of Scripps National Spelling Bee via Twitter

She leaped even higher when she got it right than when she accepted the award.

The runner-up was Chaitra Thummala, a 12-year-old from Frisco, Texas. Cole Shafer-Ray, a 20-year-old Yale student and 2015 Scripps runner-up, coaches both Zaila and Chaitra.

Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica was the only previous Black winner of the bee in 1998.

Zaila also ends a run of at least one champion or co-champion of South Asian ancestry dating back to 2008.

Debayan Paul
Debayan is a freelance digital reporter and Editor-in-chief of We The World Magazine. Contact: communications@wetheworldmagazine.com

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