Akilah Johnson, a sophomore in high school, won Google’s “Doodle 4 Google” contest just last month. This morning, her Google Doodle was featured on the world’s most visited page: Google.com.
According to the Washington Post, Akilah was “surprised and overwhelmed” when she was told that she was a national finalist in the Doodle 4 Google contest. After receiving the news that she’d won Google’s doodle contest, she said she was overwhelmed with emotion.
“I was so excited, I started crying, I didn’t even look at anybody – I was just looking at the framed copy [of the Doodle] they gave me,” Akilah told the Washington Post today.
In previous years, the Doodle 4 Google contest had excluded Washington, D.C., from the list of eligible states, but as of this year, Google allowed D.C. to be included. Akilah, a D.C. native, is Doodle 4 Google’s first winner from Washington D.C.
“I didn’t think I was going to win, then when I got up there and it hit me, I started crying so hard, it was unbelievable,” Doodle 4 Google winner Akilah Johnson told USA Today.
Akilah Johnson, a high school sophomore, said working on the Doodle seemed like it took “forever.” The theme of this year’s Doodle 4 Google was simply “What makes me, me,” a theme that really resonated with Akilah. Her doodle is titled “My Afrocentric Life,” and it’s inspired in part by Black Lives Matter protesters and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Although it took forever making this picture, it only took me about two weeks. I based this picture off of my lifestyle and what has made me into what I am today,” Akilah said, describing growing up in Washington, D.C.
The Doodle 4 Google winner wrote a blog post featured on the official Google blog today, in which she details her inspirations, her upbringing, and, in particular, the multiple layers of meaning in the winning Doodle.
“Everything surrounding the word ‘Google’ depicts my characteristics – the symbol of life, the African continent, and the D.C. flag, because I’m a Washingtonian at heart and I love my city with everything in me!” Akilah wrote today on the Google blog.
Akilah’s winning Google Doodle was drawn as a box braid and illustrated with colored pencils, black crayons, and Sharpie markers. She designed the winning Doodle with themes from her childhood but also with culturally relevant themes from today, including the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Doodle 4 Google gave me an understanding of why art matters, and why my art matters – it’s because it speaks to people, no matter the differences we have, everyone is touched by art in some way,” Akilah told USA Today.
The Doodle 4 Google winner is visiting Google’s Mountain View campus with her mom, Tikecia Johnson, and her teacher Zalika Perkins, where she attended workshops with the four other finalists and the Google Doodle team, along with the guest judges including actors BJ Novak, Julie Bowen, and astronaut Yvonne Cagle.
“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 Johnson said today.
As the winner of the Doodle 4 Google contest, Akilah doesn’t just get her artwork featured on Google’s homepage, she’s also taking home a $30,000 scholarship, and her high school will be awarded a $50,000 technology grant from Google.
Akilah was excited beyond words when she won the Doodle 4 Google contest, and her mom and teacher are mostly excited for Akilah’s future.
“I think it’s going to propel her and open more doors for her,” said Akilah’s teacher Zalika Perkins.
[Image via Google 2016]