The poised, articulate young woman in the (statement) yellow coat (which has gone viral) kept the inaugural audience spellbound while she recited her moving poem, “The Hill We Climb”. With a brilliant smile and vivacious self-assurance , she addressed without flinching the current problems of political inertia resulting from party loyalty, radial injustice, and the anxiety and grief we are experiencing as a result of the escalating death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic. Her poem is a plea for unity at a time when it is urgently needed, so that we can all move forward and live in peace and prosperity.
A Harvard graduate, Amanda Gorman at 22 is the youngest inaugural poet. She began writing at an early age and by 14 had joined WriteGirl (a non-profit that helps teen girls find their voice through writing). By 16 she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and later became the first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has won several Scholastic Art & Writing Awards; regional awards in 2015 and 2016, and a Silver Medal for Novel Writing in 2016.
But what I find even more inspiring is that Amanda Gorman has a speech impediment - which she has overcome by reciting her poetry out loud (and singing songs from her favorite musical Hamilton!). A prolific bright young woman, she has written two books which are scheduled for publication in September, 2021: a book of poetry called “The Hill We Climb” and a children’s book called “Change Sings”.
Ms. Gorman found inspiration by reading speeches of leaders who inspired Americans during historic times of national strife and disruption. Below is a transcript of her poem. I encourage you to read it aloud, while thinking of what this country has given you (and I double-dare you not to shed a tear):
The Hill We Climb
By Amanda Gorman
When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
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.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
Amen! We must take her words to heart for the sake of our children and grandchildren.