Amanda Gorman, Wordsmith and Change-Maker

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Photo via the AP.

Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate.

“The hill we climb, if only we dare, it’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.” This famous line from Gorman’s Inauguration Day poem, “The Hill We Climb,” is one of many strong phrases recited in the poem. On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman took to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. to recite a poem that reached out to Americans around the country. She and many other performers welcomed the new President-elect Joseph R. Biden to be sworn in as 46th President of the United States. When taking a step back on Gorman’s life, it’s no surprise she has risen to such success through awards and appearances. 

Amanda Gorman was born on March 7, 1998. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Gorman found her love for writing at a very young age. She was raised by her single mother, Joan Wicks, who taught English to middle school students. As a child, Gorman developed a speech impediment that she later worked to overcome. This setback as a young child allowed her to grow in her stories and writing. When she was a senior in high school, Amanda received a scholarship for Sociology at Harvard University. At Harvard, she wrote a book of poetry called “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough,” which created a backbone for her future poems, reminiscent of unity.  In April 2017, she was named the National Youth Poet Laureate and graduated 3 years later. The main themes in her poetry include oppression, race, feminism, and marginalization. After graduating Harvard she continued to improve. 

Amanda Gorman’s talents did not go without recognition. Soon enough, she began writing for major companies and newspapers like the New York Times, The Edit, Nike’s 2020 Black History Month Campaign, and more. In addition, she received the genius grant from OZY Media, the Poets and Writers Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award. While also being recognized by Glamour magazine: College Women of the Year. Gorman was also mentioned and praised for her work in Scholastic Inc., the Webby Awards, and YoungArts. Her poems earned her performances for Lin Manuel Miranda, Al Gore, Malala Yousafzai, the Clintons, the Obamas, and CBS This Morning. Gorman’s talents also landed her the spot of being youngest board member of the 826 National, a youth network for writing and literature in the United States. Because of the awards and opportunities that she’s earned, Gorman was able to recite her impactful poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ on Inauguration Day.

‘The Hill We Climb’ expressed the inner dimensions of freedom and solidarity in America. Opportunity was also a major thematic element; she says, “We the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother, can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.” During these tough times she spoke of the country coming together and putting prejudices aside when she says, “And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.” Amanda Gorman, in this beautiful poem, brought a sense of togetherness through speaking of a new dawn in America. To close it off, Amanda left Americans across the country a message that should stay in everyone’s hearts: “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

‘The Hill We Climb’ was watched by 33.8 million people around the world, and had the third highest viewership of Presidential Inaugurations since 1981. As a result of the resounding reach of her poem, Gorman performed at Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, Florida. From the attention of her newly flourishing poem, Amanda Gorman has now become a household name throughout America, with her eloquence on display.