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Congratulations and bows are in order for Zaila Avant-garde who, at 14-years-old, is the first Black person and Louisiana resident to win the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee title. Zaila conquered the title (with her afro beautifully displayed for the world to see) over 12-year-old Chaitra Thummala of Frisco, Texas by properly spelling the word “Murraya” which, by definition, is a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian tress having pinnate leaves and flowers.  Zaila defeated 11 finalist at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida to win the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee title and the first-place prize which is $50,000.

Hailing from Harvey, Louisiana, Zaila Avant-garde has been dubbed a child prodigy way before claiming the title of a spelling bee champion.  At just 8-years-old, she had a genius knack for dribbling a basketball.  She now holds three Guinness World Records for her ability to dribble not three…but multiple basketballs at a time.  Zaila is one of the top 8th grade basketball players in the United States, and her dream is to continue on to the WNBA.

My hearts is swollen with adoration and pride.  To see one of our own achieve such astounding success at a young age is absolutely beautiful.  I watched the video of her spelling the word that led her to claiming the title in awe.  When the word was given to her I thought to myself, “What in the world is a Murraya and where does he live?” However, Zaila, being the true brilliant competitor she is, did not fret.  She assessed the word and then belted out the spelling like nobody’s business.  And the fact that she is conquering this world while wearing such a stylish, undefeated hairdo, further proves why she is a champion.


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