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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman

a true powerhouse

Empowering, eloquent and extraordinary – a voice that echoes and uplifts the cries of all who struggle to find the light. At only 22-years-old, American Writer and Activist Amanda S.C Gorman became the youngest poet to speak at a presidential inauguration in January 2021. Gorman wrote “The Hill We Climb” after the seige on the United States Capitol and the murder of George Floyd which sparked nation-wide protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Gorman used the power of literary arts to express a timeless, moving outcry, illustrating that we can and must do better when faced with acts of violence, trauma and injustice – the inevitable hills that we climb as a collective society.

“The Hill We Climb” speaks to me in many ways as I strive to make the world a vibrant, more kind place in all that I do. After analyzing the poem in Writer’s Craft in High School, and again during English class in First Year, Gorman’s words not only resonated because of its excellence in demonstrating figurative language, but due to her admirable leadership that continuously makes a positive impact within the education system and beyond.

“what’s a Legacy? it’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

When one leaves behind a legacy, it marks a trail to which others can be empowered to take on the world because someone showed them the way. Amanda Gorman is no exception. A powerhouse of words, undoubtedly, but from the very beginning of being raised by a single mother, Gorman pushed herself to excellence despite the trials that she faced along her journey. Continuously demonstrating what it means to be a true role model, she is the epitome of humility, resilience and a heart of gold; crafting a legacy for all to be inspired by. The following are just a few of the reasons that encapsulate Gorman as an empowering Black woman.

The Hill she climbed: overcoming a child disability

Having a speech impediment from when she was a child, “Gorman doesn’t view her speech impediment as a crutch—rather, she sees it as a gift and a strength,” reported the Harvard Crimson. Mindset is everything; and once you view your situations in a different light, the situations around you will change. As proven by Gorman, adversities may be inevitable, but the way you perceive them is entirely up to you. Grow through what you go through, amirite?

Gorman is the first black woman to read a poem at a presidential inauguration

Yup. She did that with “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of current United States President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. Oh, we STAN a woman who makes history and continues to do so.

she advocates for educational opportunities to reach all youth

As the founder and executive administrator of a non-profit organization “One Pen, One Page”, Gorman kick-started an amazing initiative that provides free creative writing programs for underserved youth. Its mission is to empower youth to use their voices for the betterment of society, to help eliminate inequality within the education system and to elevate the voices of youth through writing and creativity. Talk about inspiring!

gORMAN’s legacy lives on in her best-selling literary works

As an avid reader myself, I’m always seeking new literary works that remind me of why I hold such a passion for the arts, and that is to showcase how each of our narratives – no matter how different – are interconnected. Some of her works that I wish to read someday include: Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, Call Us What We Carry and The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough.

she Was A Youth Delegate For The United Nations

Not only was Gorman named the first National Youth Poet Laureate, but she has also shown excellence in her role with the United Nations as a delegate. Empowered by Pakistani and Female Education Activist Malala Yousafzai, Gorman, at only 19-years-old, performed her poem “The Gathering Place” at the UN’s Social Good Summit in 2017.

allow yourself to inspire and be inspired

February may be coming to a close, but the conversations regarding Black Heritage Month must remain ongoing. It is of utmost importance to continue the conversation on the steps that we need to take in order to create a more just society. To educate ourselves and one another as life-long learners, we must ensure that the voices of those that have been diminished are amplified and empowered.

How can we do so? Follow Gorman’s lead, in your own extraordinary way.

In order to see and be the change, we must begin to talk about the topics that stir uncomfortably within. We must know that where there is systemic racism, there is also the opportunity for all of us to utilize our voice and platform for the greater good. The power and impact of change begin with a simple question, “What have I learned from the past in order to benefit the present and future?” Black Lives Matter was more than just a movement; it was a significant shift that was necessary for society to ensure we rise above acts of racism, hate and adversity. I implore you to be willing to develop the courage and stand up to call racism out. Opportunities are being presented to us to recognize the spaces that need to change and grow. 

We must remember that we don’t have to hold a position on a council, club or on any team with a specific position to classify ourselves as positive leaders. If you inspire somebody to be more and do more towards the pathway to bettering our society, you are a leader. Change starts with you and truly begins with a single step.

As a community, we must acknowledge that Black Lives Matter is not a trend, nor is it something that you can post for one moment. It is continuous. It is a movement. It is up to us, the change-makers of today, to inspire and help generate more change makers for tomorrow. There is an abundance of power in what we can do as a community to ensure a brighter future for those who face injustice. Your voice possesses more power than you know; use it for the greater good. I’m with you in wanting to do so.

Black Lives Matter, today and forever. You, too, can help lead the way.

✞ (She/Her) Hi everyone! My name is Giselle Castillejos and I am a First Year ‘Con-Eddie’ at Queen’s University. I am studying to become a Drama and English High School Teacher in the near future (fingers tightly crossed!) as one of my deepest passions is helping others with the hopes of making the world a kinder, more vibrant place, uplifting others, and hoping to inspire the next generation of learners. In the words of Hollywood’s most preeminent Directors, Martin Scorsese, when referring to any work of art, “The most personal is the most creative”. I engrave these words deep into my heart as it allows me to empathize with others, reminding me that authenticity fuels connectivity. I’m hoping that by using my voice, you, too, can find yours. 💙🎭🎶🌸🌎🇵🇭🍎