African American Spelling Bee Champ Makes History With Flair
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The nation's first African American winner has breezed to victory at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde of Harvey, Louisiana, didn't show much stress on stage and only struggled with one word in Thursday's finals. She is only the second Black champion in the bee's 96-year history after Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998. Zaila described spelling as a side hobby, though she routinely practiced seven hours daily. A basketball prodigy, she hopes to play in the WNBA and holds three Guinness world records for dribbling multiple balls simultaneously. Zaila leaped with excitement after spelling the winning word, “Murraya,” a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees.