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Original photo by Courtney Wells

Amanda Gorman: A Poignant Poet Making History

The history that was made on January 20th, 2021 was plentiful. For the first time in American history, a womxn holds the position of vice president. Moreover, Vice President Kamala Harris is also the first Black and South Asian vice president. This is certainly a landmark moment for the United States and witnessing it live on television was something that I will never forget. As I was watching the inauguration with tears in my eyes and an inkling of joyous pride blossoming in my chest, one of the history-making moments that truly captivated me the most was the performance by Amanda Gorman.

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Gorman is a 22-year-old Black womxn poet from Los Angeles, California. She graduated cum laude at Harvard University with a degree in Sociology. She’s been open about growing up with a speech impediment and, although she has faced some challenges, she’s been able to overcome them. Her poetry typically consists of topics such as feminism, race, social justice, and oppression. She has a huge list of impressive accomplishments that range from being invited to the White House during the Obama administration to having multiple books planned for future publication. One of her most astounding feats is the fact that Gorman was deemed as being the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate, an esteemed title that reflects upon her sheer poetic talents.

[bf_image id="s55n6nnvcx6grsn9stw5xmn"] With that being said, Gorman’s participation in President Joe Biden’s inauguration is yet another well-deserved achievement that has made history. After being recommended by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Gorman has become the youngest inaugural poet in United States history. The poem that Gorman read during the inauguration is entitled “The Hill We Climb,” and from the moment her performance began I was completely mesmerized by her prose. Some of Gorman’s most moving and poignant thoughts can be found in lines such as, “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.” She describes the United States as being “a nation that isn’t broken / but simply unfinished” before going on to state that “being American is more than a pride we inherit, / it’s the past we step into / and how we repair it.” Her words resonated with me as they stirred a feeling inside of me that I haven’t felt in a very, very long time: hope.

The poem that Gorman read for the country held a genuine impact on me and, as social media has displayed, she has clearly made an impact upon the entire country, too. She is a young womxn of color making her mark on the world. She is an outspoken activist bringing attention to issues that matter the most. She is an inspiration for many. It’s no surprise that Gorman has said that she plans on running for president in 2036. After watching her make history at the inauguration, I have no doubt that her future is going to be full of even more groundbreaking accomplishments and I can’t wait to see her name on a presidential voting ballot one day.

One of the most breathtaking lines from Gorman’s inaugural poem made a direct reference to the musical Hamilton as she wrote: “For while we have our eyes on the future / history has its eyes on us.” Truer words could not be spoken during this groundbreaking moment in time and I’m proud that Amanda Gorman’s powerful poetry has forged her a well-deserved, shining spot in our nation’s history as it continues to have its eyes on us for evermore.

Courtney Wells

UC Riverside '22

Courtney is an undergrad at UC Riverside with a major in Sociology and a minor in Feminist Studies. She is passionate about social justice, intersectional feminism, and political activism. She is a lover of reading, iced tea, dad jokes, scary movies, cheese fries, and Taylor Swift. She can usually be found rewatching Pride and Prejudice (2005) with her cats.
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