Then and Now: The Leaders of Black History; Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S History. On Jan. 20, 2021, 22-year old Gorman read her work, “The Hill We Climb,” at the Capital for the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President, Kamala Harris.

Born on March 7, 1998 in Los Angelos California, Gorman was exposed to the world of writing at a very early age. Gorman was raised by her mother, Joan Wicks, an english teacher, who encouraged writing and reading.

A part of the graduating class of 2020, Gorman graduated cum laude from Harvard with a Bachelor of Art in Sociology. As a senior at New Roads, she received a Milken Family Foundation college scholarship to pursue her education in sociology.

At only 22-years old Gorman is a poet and activist that has been invited to the White House under Obama to perform for well known figures like Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. In 2017, she was the first person to be named the National Youth Laureate of the United States. She has written for the New York Times, she was the first person to be commissioned to write a poem to be performed at the Super Bowl, and is the youngest board member of the 826 National, the largest youth writing network in the country. These are the only a few of the accomplishments of Amanda Gorman.

Inspired by the Capital Riots on Jan. 6, Gorman incorporated the attempts to overturn the election of President Joe Biden into her poem for the inauguration. Her poem voiced for unity and healing in a time of hate and worry.

Out of the 46 Presidents in U.S. history, only four have had poets read at their inauguration.

  1. John F. Kennedy had Robert Frost read his poem “The Gift Outright.”
  2. Bill Clinton had Maya Angelou read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” for his first term and had Miller Williams read his poem “Of History and Hope” for his second.
  3. Barack Obama had Elizabeth Alexander read her poem “Praise Song for the Day” for his first term and Richard Blanco read his poem “One Today.”
  4. Joe Biden had Amanda Gorman read her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

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