Today’s Winning Google Doodle Invoking Black Lives Matter Was Designed by a High School Sophomore

Michael Cavna, Washington Post, March 21, 2016

Just last month, Akilah Johnson was “surprised and overwhelmed” when she learned that she was a national finalist in the “Doodle 4 Google” contest for elementary through high school students.

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Akilah, a sophomore at Eastern Senior High School in Northeast Washington, has just been named Google’s big winner in the national contest, topping the 53 state and territory champions, whose work had been culled from about 100,000 student entries.

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This year’s contest theme was: “What makes me . . . me.” Akilah drew a box-braided Doodle, titled “My Afrocentric Life,” using color pencils, black crayons and Sharpie markers. The Doodle includes symbols of black heritage and signs representing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Doodle

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“I based this picture off my lifestyle,” she stated as part of her entry, which is featured today on Google’s home page.

“As a child, I attended Roots [Public Charter School] and Roots [Activity Learning Center], so I was raised in the ‘Afrocentric lifestyle,’ ” Akilah told The Post, referring to educational institutions in Northwest Washington that tout “culturally relevant curriculum” and the aim to serve “the specific needs of children of African heritage.”

“One of my teachers from Roots, Baba Camera, is really [who] made me look at art in a different way,” Akilah said. “As I grew older, I . . . realized that the black people [who] came before us . . . made us into what we are today, so of course I had to include them in some way.” (“Of all the things I chose to include,” Akilah writes on Google’s site, “the six most special to me are the Symbol of Life [the ankh], the African continent, where everything began for me and my ancestors, the Eye of Horus, the word ‘power’ drawn in black, the woman’s fist based on one of my favorite artist’s works, and the D.C. flag–because I’m a Washingtonian at heart and I love my city with everything in me!”)

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Besides seeing her work spotlighted on Google’s home page, Akilah will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and her high school will be awarded a $50,000 Google for Education grant “towards the establishment and improvement of a computer lab or technology program.” She also will get to meet with professional artists at Google’s headquarters.

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