If you didn’t get a chance to see this beautiful piece of artwork on Google’s front page on Monday, you missed out on a seriously rewarding and thought-provoking visual experience.
The piece, entitled, “My Afrocentric Life” was created by high school sophomore Akilah Johnson, who said she was “surprised and overwhelmed” upon being informed that she was in the running to win the national “Doodle 4 Google” contest.
The theme of this year’s contest was: “What makes me… me,” and there’s no denying that Akilah is proud of her heritage and her culture. She used black crayons, colored pencils, and Sharpie markers to create her Doodle, and says it only took her about two weeks to complete.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Akilah shares what inspired her, saying: “One of my teachers from Roots, Baba Camera, is really [who] made me look at art in a different way. 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.”
And on Google’s site, Akilah writes: “Of all the things I chose to include, 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!”
In addition to seeing her winning artwork on Google’s homepage, Akilah received a $30,000 college scholarship and won $50,000 Google for Education grant for her high school. She was also invited to Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California, where she discovered she had won, and will have the opportunity to meet with some of their professional artists.
Seeing Akilah’s heart caused me to feel an immense surge of pride and excitement that black heritage was being honored on a platform like Google, which is frequented over 3.5 billion times a day. And really, it’s not even the word “Google” that first catches your eye when you view the image, but the elegant and powerful profile of a black woman.
Akilah Johnson, thank you for sharing your talents with the world and honoring black heritage in the process. We salute you!