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Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s history making performance

Amanda Gorman was named the nation’s First Youth Poet Laureate at 19. Now at 22, she is delivering her original composition, “The Hill We Climb” at the 59th presidential inauguration as the youngest known inaugural poet.

Gorman talks about writing a poem for this moment, her preparation for big performances and how poetry helped her overcome a speech impediment.

CBS This Morning

Read “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

As republished by Los Angeles Magazine, Jan. 20, 2021.

“The Hill We Climb”
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’ve 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’ve 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 a union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

So we lift our gazes 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, 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 should make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in in all of the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it 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. That would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy, and this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can periodically be delayed, but 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 in 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 can 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, our blunders become their burden. 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, with 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, we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution, we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states, we will rise from the sunbaked South, we will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful, when the 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.

C-SPAN

Anything But Ordinary – Distinguishing the 59th Presidential Inauguration from years past

Katie Mott, The Leaf |

Today, President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office at an inauguration ceremony that will go down in history in more ways than one.


North College Hill students watch Biden’s inauguration: “We should be hopeful”

Alexa Helwig, WKRC |

North College Hill social studies teacher Keith Spangler thinks it’s important to show this day of tradition to his students. “Today is a hallmark of our democracy. It shows a peaceful transfer of power, which was never heard of before we had the Constitution,” Spangler said.

Student Alisay Bell took advantage of this moment to reflect on how divided the country is. “A lot of people think these past months should be hopeless, but I feel like we should be more hopeful and to empower our younger groups and people younger than me to speak out,” she said.

Bell is off to college next year to study history with hopes of becoming an attorney one day. She’s inspired by Vice President Kamala Harris. “She is what I want to be when I grow up. I’m excited to see that she’s our vice president. I think that’s beautiful,” Bell said.

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