According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the word “Murraya” is defined as a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees (family Rutaceae) having pinnate leaves and flowers with imbricated petals. However, to a young 14-year-old girl from New Orleans, Louisiana by the name of Zaila Avant-garde, the word “Murraya” means a whole lot more than that!
On July 8th, 2021 Zaila Avant-garde made history by becoming the first African-American (Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica was the first Black contestant to win the title in 1998) to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the competition’s 96 year history. The event which was televised live on ESPN on Thursday evening drew a VIP crowd including First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden who was there to witness Avant-garde become a national champion! In addition to her spelling talents, Avant-garde also enjoys playing basketball and holds three Guinness World Records for dribbling the most basketballs at one time. She’s amazing! With everything going on in the world right now, it’s little victories like these that are so special.
Congrats to Zaila Avant-garde and all the contestants of this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. Watch the video of Avante-garde becoming a national champion by spelling the word “Murraya” below. It was the twirl at the end for us! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode <3