Doodle 4 Google: High schooler's Afrocentric art wins competition

For this year's competition, Google asked young artists to doodle around the theme “What Makes Me... Me.”

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The company announced Akilah Johnson and her Afrocentric doodle won the national competition on Monday. Her art went live on Google's U.S. homepage during a press conference at the company's California headquarters.

Akilah, a student at Eastern Senior High School in the District of Columbia, said she was inspired by her time at Roots Public Charter School and Roots Activity Learning Center, both in northwest D.C.

“We regularly celebrated important African American people and I learned a lot about my history as an African American,” she wrote in a blog post for Google. “As I grew older, I realized that the black people that came before us had made us into what we are today. So of course I had to include them in my doodle.”

Akilah wanted her doodle to be accessible while exploring childhood themes and reflecting on society, she said.

“My goal with my art was to not only turn heads but souls as well -- not only for someone to see it and be amazed by it but also to have them understand and connect with it,” she said. “Everything surrounding the word 'Google' depicts my characteristics.”

As the winner of the Doodle 4 Google Competition, now in its eighth year, Akilah won a $30,000 scholarship for college, a $50,000 Google for Education grant for her school, a Chromebook, an Android tablet and a t-shirt printed with her doodle. The company also flew Akilah and four other Doodle 4 Google contestants to Google's headquarters in Mountain View.

She won over submissions from 100,000 people across the country and in Puerto Rico, Guam and D.C.

“I'm excited to keep creating art that matters,” she said.

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