Amanda Gorman is ‘gutted’ by school district’s decision to restrict her poem after parent complains it contains ‘hate messages’
The acclaimed poem written by Amanda Gorman for President Joe Biden’s inauguration was moved from the elementary section of a Miami-Dade County public school after a complaint from parents and a school review, the district.
A parent of a student at the Bob Graham Education Center – a kindergarten to eighth grade school in Miami Lakes – took issue with Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb”, for which they incorrectly cited Oprah Winfrey as the author/ publisher, according to documents obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read project.
It “is not educational and indirectly contains (sic) messages of hate,” the complaint said, adding that the poem would “confuse and indoctrinate students.”
The same parent made similar complaints about “Love to Langston,” a poetry-based biography of black poet Langston Hughes; “The ABCs of Black History” and two books on Cuba, complaints obtained by the nonprofit collective show.
A school materials review committee refused to remove the books entirely from the school, but decided to move Gorman’s poem and two other disputed items to the college section of the library, which is for students. students in grades six through eight, according to minutes of an April committee meeting that were obtained by the association.
The poem’s removal is the latest consequence of a Florida law that requires books to be approved in classrooms and grants any parent the power to complain about specific works. Under Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican on the verge of running for president, Florida has used this and other “parental rights” laws to ban work on LGBTQ issues, social justice, and even social justice. math textbooks.
Gorman, the nation’s first-ever Young Poet Laureate, was 22 when she performed “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s 2021 inauguration. Inspired by the Capitol insurrection two weeks earlier, the poem by 700 Words criticized the “force that would shatter our nation rather than divide it” and spoke of the need for justice and social change.
“The new dawn blooms as we release it,” she concluded the poem. “For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be.”
The poem and performance propelled her to national stardom, including appearances at the Super Bowl, on the cover of Time and Vogue, and to the top of bestseller lists.
Gorman was “flushed” by the district’s decision, she said in a statement Tuesday.
“I wrote ‘The Hill We Climb’ so that all young people could see themselves in a historic moment. I have since received countless letters and videos from children inspired by ‘The Hill We Climb’ to write their own poems,” she wrote. “Depriving children of the chance to find their voice in literature is a violation of their right to freedom of thought and expression.”
The Miami-Dade County mayor on Wednesday invited Gorman to visit for a reading.
“Your poem has inspired our youth to become active participants in their government and to help shape the future. We want you to come to Miami-Dade for a reading of your poem. If you’re in, we’ll coordinate,” Daniella Levine Cava wrote on Twitter.
In a statement to CNN Tuesday night, Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson Elmo Lugo said, “No literature (books or poems) has been banned or removed.”
“It was determined at the school that ‘The Hill We Climb’ was best suited for middle school students and it has been shelved in the middle school section of the media center. The book remains available at the media center,” a- he declared.
Lugo did not respond to a request to verify the authenticity of the complaint documents released by the Florida Freedom to Read Project, saying instead that the district would treat CNN’s investigation as an official request for public records.