Amanda Gorman, the poet who came to national attention after her performance at Joe Biden’s inauguration, has spoken out against book banks in Florida after her inauguration poem was banned at a South Florida elementary school.
Following a complaint from a single parent, her inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” was banned from the Bob Graham education center in Miami Lakes. “I’m gutted,” Gorman wrote in a social media post. “Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.”
The poem was one of five books the parent named Daily Salinas challenged. Besides wrongly listing Oprah Winfrey as the author of The Hill We Climb, Salinas said in her complaint that she was against the poem because it was “not educational and have indirectly hate messages”.
But Gorman in her post said she wrote “The Hill We Climb,” so that “all young people could see themselves in a historical moment”, adding that she would fight back against the ban.
“So they ban my book from young readers, confuse me with Oprah, fail to specify what parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews, and offer no alternatives … Unnecessary book bans like these are on the rise, and we must fight back,” the 25-year-old poet wrote.
Book bans have been on the rise in recent times in Florida thanks to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies supporting the censorship of books people think are not appropriate for school children. According to the writer’s group PEN America, 565 books were banned in Florida schools in the 2021-22 school year. Florida under DeSantis has also banned teachings on gender, race, and sexuality, and has further restricted mathematics textbooks over claims that they cover critical race theory. Gorman has asked her followers to donate to PEN America, which is working with her publisher Penguin Random House, to file a suit against book bans in Florida.
Gorman made history when she became the youngest poet to recite an original poem at a presidential inauguration. She was also the sixth poet to perform at an inauguration following in the footsteps of other greats like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. The Havard alum captivated the audience and viewers with her The Hill We Climb poem, earning her loads of commendations from celebrities including Winfrey as well as people on social media. Gorman revealed she wrote the inaugural poem on January 6 after the disturbing riots at the U.S. Capitol. She also mentioned that she wrote it along the lines of American unity, which was synonymous with the theme for Biden’s inauguration, “America United.”