Amanda Gorman

  • Poet and activist Amanda S. C. Gorman was born on March 7, 1998, in Los Angeles, California. She has an older brother, Spencer, and a twin sister, Gabrielle. All three were raised by single mother Joan Wicks, a sixth-grade English Teacher. Amanda was born prematurely and was diagnosed with a speech and auditory impediment in her youth. Gorman began writing songs when she was five years old but moved to poetry once recognizing that she had few musical talents. Growing up, she was given limited access to television, only being allowed to watch 1940s sitcoms, and was required to give a social justice argument if she desired to watch something else.

    This inspiring young woman became a youth delegate for the United Nations in 2013 and was chosen as the first youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014. After years of working with WriteGirl, a Los Angeles based non-profit that assists young teen girls to discover the power of their voice through writing, 17-year-old Gorman published her first book, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, in 2015. She graduated from New Roads, a private K-12 school in Santa Monica, California in 2016, and after receiving a Milken Family Foundation scholarship, enrolled into Harvard University. In the same year, Gorman founded One Pen One Page, a nonprofit organization that focuses on youth writing and leadership.

    In 2017 Gorman became the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. Later that year she also became the first youth poet to open the literary season for the Library of Congress. There she performed her poem, “In This Place: An American Lyric” for ceremony attendees. Later in the year, Gorman introduced Hillary Clinton at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards and won a $10,000 grant from media company Ozy at its annual OZY Genius Awards. She was selected as one of Glamour magazine’s “College Women of The Year” in 2018, and was chosen as one of The Root magazine’s “Young Futurists” in 2019. After attending Milan Fashion Week, Gorman was courted by fashion icons Vogue, Prada, and Helmut Lang, and signed a contract with IMG Models.

    Gorman delivered a virtual commencement speech in May 2020 during a web series, just before she graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Sociology. In 2021 Amanda Gorman made history when she became the youngest inaugural poet during President Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony in Washington. Gorman was also featured on the February 2021 cover of Time magazine and listed as a “Phenom” in the magazine’s 100 Next lists, where her profile was written by actor, singer, playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. In the same month, Gorman was commissioned to compose a poem for Superbowl LV, making her the first poet to recite in the pregame ceremony. She recently released books The Hill We Climb: Poems (2021), Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem (2021), and Call Us What We Carry: Poems (2021). She has stated multiple times that she aspires to run for President in 2036.

    Below is the script for “The Hill We Climb”, which Gorman performed during the 2021 Presidential inauguration. 

    “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 the 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 the 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.

    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 sun-baked South.

    We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.

    And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

    When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.

    The new dawn balloons 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.