This past week, a complaint from a single parent in Florida led to a poem by Amanda Gorman being banned from Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes. Not just any poem: The parent took issue with Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb,” which she recited at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the country’s history.
The parent’s complaint is absurd and troubling. It drips with insecurity, fascist predisposition, and intolerance. Specifically, the parent mistakenly listed Oprah Winfrey as the author, and said she objected to the poem because it was “not educational and have indirectly hate messages.”
But the fact the power this one parent had to create a school-wide ban is what’s truly chilling. Florida official banning of books found in numerous recent laws is an encouragement to censor speech and halt deep, important discussions. It takes away a crucial opportunity to help our children to grapple with the real world.
Gorman, who is now 25, responded with clear resolve: “Unnecessary book bans like these are on the rise, and we must fight back.”
How? Gorman’s poem itself lays out the inspiration and roadmap to fighting bans of literature like this. So sit your kids down and read a few of the more pressing couplets of Gorman’s poem, who came to these words after studying speeches of the likes of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Winston Churchill — and wrote more than half the poem shortly after the events of January 6 insurrection.
On Divisions And Putting Differences Aside
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.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
On The Dangers Of Pride
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright.
When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Pop some popcorn, sit down with the kids, watch Gorman recite her poem, and have the hard discussions with your kid. That’s the bravery Americans need.