Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate and a rising star in the literary world, has defended her poem “The Hill We Climb” after a school in Florida restricted access to it.
The poem, which Gorman read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, was removed from the library at Pinecrest Elementary School in Miami-Dade County after a parent complained that it was “divisive” and “inappropriate” for elementary school students.
Gorman, who is 25 years old and Black, has said she is “gutted” by the decision, which she sees as an act of censorship. “I wrote ‘The Hill We Climb’ so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment,” she wrote on Twitter. “Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by ‘The Hill We Climb’ to write their own poems.”
In a statement, the school district said that the decision to remove the book was made by a committee of teachers, a media specialist, and the school’s principal. The district said that the committee “determined that the book was not appropriate for elementary school students.”
Gorman has rejected the school’s defense, saying that the poem is “an inaugural poem for the world.” She has also pointed out that the book is available in the school’s middle school library.
The controversy over the removal of “The Hill We Climb” is the latest in a series of incidents in which books have been banned or restricted in schools across the country. In recent years, there has been a growing movement to ban books that deal with topics such as race, gender, and sexuality.
Gorman’s defense of “The Hill We Climb” is a powerful statement in support of free speech and the importance of literature in education. Her words are a reminder that books can be a powerful force for good, and that they should not be banned or restricted simply because they make some people uncomfortable.
In addition to her defense of “The Hill We Climb,” Gorman has also spoken out against censorship in general. In an interview with The New York Times, she said that “censorship is a form of violence.” She added that “when you censor a book, you are censoring a person’s voice.”
Gorman’s words are a powerful reminder of the importance of free speech and the importance of literature in education. Her work is a beacon of hope for a more just and equitable world.