The African-American young poet calls for “unity and togetherness”
Amanda Gorman who calls herself “a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother [who] can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one” stole the show at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris with her message of light and hope on Capitol Hill, making history as the youngest poet ever to perform at a presidential inauguration. Dressed in a top-to-toe bright Prada outfit featuring a yellow coat and a red satin headband, Gorman recited a powerful self-penned poem under the title “The Hill We Climb”, calling for “unity and togetherness” and thus offering a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country. As she highlighted to BBC World Service’s Newshour program before the ceremony:
“I really wanted to use my words to be a point of unity and collaboration and togetherness”
“I think it’s about a new chapter in the United States, about the future, and doing that through the elegance and beauty of words”
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But who is Amanda Gorman? Born in Los Angeles in 1998 and raised by her mother who was a teacher, Amanda is a poet and activist who graduated from Harvard with a degree in sociology. Her work is divided between activism on issues such as oppression, racism, marginalization, and feminism, and poetry. While at Harvard, she won the National Youth Poet Laureate, the first Harvard prize dedicated to young writers in 2017. Today, the performer who experienced a hearing disorder at a young age and struggled with speech articulation throughout her life, which however made her very good at reading and writing, talked at the inauguration day about democracy, human rights, respect for each other and brought in light in the most delicate way the Black Lives Matter fight which deeply marked the modern American history. Her poem gave courage and hope, and foster a sense of collectivity at a moment when Americans are hit by political violence, partisan division, and a deadly pandemic crisis. As she was calling all Americans to learn from their mistakes and be brave enough to “be” the light, she became a powerful source of light and inspiration for the country too, an ambassador for all the new generations, who is fighting to make the world a better place without distinction and inequality. After the end of her speech, reactions poured immediately from across the country and the political spectrum as well, including those of former President Barack Obama who took the tweeter, repeating some of her words. Oprah also shared her enthusiasm as well as Sarah Ramirez commented:
“On a day for the history books, @TheAmandaGorman delivered a poem that more than met the moment. Young people like her are proof that “there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it; if only we’re brave enough to be it.” – Barack Obama
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering – and so am I.” – Oprah
“Amanda Gorman just made this Inauguration Day unforgettably elevated and solidifies our collective commitment to move forward with purpose and courage.” – Sara Ramirez
In case you missed it, watch her full performance of “The Hill We Climb” below:
Keep on inspiring Gal!
[Cover Photo © Patrick Semansky-Pool]