“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,” Akilah Johnson, a young Black woman, says about her Google Doodle, which adorns the search engine’s homepage today (March 21).
My drawing explores childhood themes and then moves into reflections on our society. Everything surrounding the word “Google” depicts my characteristics. 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!
Johnson also includes a homage to her education at two D.C. schools—Roots Public Charter School and Roots Activity Learning Center—that promote, in her words, ”a strong connection to African heritage and an Afrocentric lifestyle.” In addition, the piece features a drawing of a crowd gathered in protest, with one person holding a sign that reads “Black Lives Matter.”
Johnson is the first Black student to win the annual contest. Her drawing was selected from nearly 100,000 submissions; the panel included NBA star Stephen Curry and “Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen. She will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and her current school, Eastern Senior High School, will receive a $50,000 education technology grant.