Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Amanda Gorman’s poem for Biden’s inauguration banned by Florida school

Published:Thursday | May 25, 2023 | 1:11 AM
American poet Amanda Gorman.
American poet Amanda Gorman.


A poem written for President Joe Biden’s inauguration has been placed on a restricted list at a South Florida elementary school after one parent’s complaint.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, poet Amanda Gorman vowed to fight back. Her poem, The Hill We Climb, was challenged by the parent of two students at Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, along with several books.

“I’m gutted,” she wrote. “Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.”

Gorman, who at 17 became the country’s National Youth Poet Laureate, said she wrote the poem The Hill We Climb, so “all young people could see themselves in a historical moment”, and that she’s received countless letters and videos from children who were inspired to write their own poems.

She became an international sensation at Biden’s inauguration, where she was the youngest poet to read at the ceremony since Robert Frost was invited to John F. Kennedy’s in 1961.

In The Hill We Climb, Gorman references everything from Biblical scripture to Hamilton, and at times echoes the oratory of Kennedy and the Rev Martin Luther King Jr. With urgency and assertion, she begins by asking, “Where can we find light/In this never-ending shade?” and used her own poetry and life story as an answer.

She said she planned to share a message of hope for President Joseph Biden’s inauguration without ignoring “the evidence of discord and division”. She had completed a little more than half of the poem before January 6 and the siege of the US Capitol by supporters of then President Donald Trump.

The poem and books are still available in the media centre for middle school-age children, Ana Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade school district, said in a statement.