“The Hill We Climb”

Inaugural Poem Written and Delivered by Amanda Gorman.

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On Wednesday, January 20th, Amanda Gorman took the stage at President Joe Biden’s inauguration and delivered a poem that amazed people across America and worldwide. At only 22, Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in United States history. In her poem The Hill We Climb, Gorman calls for unity and tells the story of an America that “that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”

Gorman was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, by a single mother. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where she studied sociology. In 2017, Gorman was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has performed her poetry at many high-profile events and venues, including President Obama’s White House, the Lincoln Center, and the Library of Congress. She was specifically scouted by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who saw one of her performances at the Library of Congress. Like President Biden, Gorman has overcome a speech impediment, making her accomplishments as an orator even more impressive.

Gorman was tasked with the difficult feat of writing a poem that captured this moment in American history while following the inauguration’s theme of unity. With 2020 being an especially turbulent year, this was no small task. The Hill We Climb delivers a message of hope and unity while still acknowledging the Capitol’s dark attack on January 6th and the ever-present divide in America. In an interview, Gorman said that the attack on the Capitol gave her the final push she needed to finish writing and “energized [her] even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope and unity and healing.” Rather than dwelling on the dark past, Gorman looks forward to a brighter future. In her poem, she asks, “where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” before launching into verses highlighting both the good and bad sides of America. She ends by saying, “When day comes we step out of the shade […] For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it”.

Gorman’s poem was well received, and people like Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose musical Hamilton Gorman took inspiration from, voiced their praises. Gorman will recite another original poem on Sunday, February 7, before Super Bowl LV.

If you missed Gorman’s performance at the inauguration, you can watch it here.