The world looked on as Kamala Harris was sworn in as the country’s first female, Black, and South Asian vice president of the United States and Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. It was a historical moment for the most powerful country in the world. But as much as all eyes were on Biden and Harris to witness the transition of powers, all eyes were also on National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the closing of the inauguration ceremony. Gorman recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb” and completely captivated the attention of the world with her brilliant poetic voice.
Gorman, who is only twenty-two years old, read her poem in front of former presidents and vice presidents, the current president and vice president, and the many, many government officials who attended the inauguration. With poise and grace, she described the issues that divided people in the past and painted a hopeful future through “unity and togetherness.” Her words offered inspiration and comfort of a brighter future, the perfect conclusion (in our humble opinion, of course!) to the inauguration of a president who promised to unite America.
After appearing at the inauguration, Gorman is now a household name, but who is she and why was she chosen to write and recite a poem?
1. She’s an extremely accomplished poet, activist, and author whose work focuses on oppression, race, and feminism.
2. Gorman’s recital of “The Hill We Climb” makes her the youngest known poet to have ever read something at a US presidential inauguration.
3. At sixteen, she became the United States’ first National Youth Poet Laureate—a title that is given to one person who has shown mastery of poetry and/or the spoken word and advocates for social justice.
4. When Gorman was a kid, she had a speech impediment—something she shares with President Biden.
5. Amanda is a twin. Her twin sister, Gabrielle, is an activist. They were both born and raised in Los Angeles, California by their mom, who was an English teacher.
6. She graduated from Harvard, where she studied sociology.
“There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. / If only we’re brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman (excerpted from “The Hill We Climb”)