Artist and high school sophomore Akilah Johnson was chosen recently as a finalist for the Doodle 4 Google contest, an annual illustration competition for students hosted by the tech powerhouse company.
Johnson’s illustration “My Afrocentric Life” and work from 52 other students from across the U.S. will be vying for the top spot to have their art used in conjunction with Google’s search engine function. Like this past Althea Gibson doodle:
And this one of Frederick Douglass:
This year’s contest theme was “What makes me…me” and Johnson replied with a drawing of “a box braid [spelling] out Google and [surrounding] the word with symbols of black pride and Afrocentrism, including a picture of Africa and a person holding a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign,” The Hill Now describes.
“I based this picture off my lifestyle and what has made into what I am today…As a child, I attended Roots [Public Charter School] and Roots [Activity Learning Center]” in Northwest Washington, so I was raised in the ‘Afrocentric lifestyle,” the Eastern High School student said.
Johnson added, “One of my teachers from Roots, Baba Camera, is really what made me look at art in a different way. As I grew older, I had realized that the black people that came before us has made us into what we are today, so of course I has to include them in some way.”
Five national finalists will be narrowed down by the public and from there, a winner will be chosen by a series of judges including basketball star Steph Curry and Modern Family actress Julie Bowen. The winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, plus “the student artist’s school will be awarded a $50,000 Google for Education grant ‘towards the establishment and improvement of a computer lab or technology program,’” notes the Post.
If you want to vote for Johnson, do so here by Feb 22.
Good luck Akilah, you got this!