“The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Some of the words spoken by Amanda Gorman that captured the attention and the hearts of America when she made history as the youngest inaugural poet. Her moving rendition of “The Hill We Climb” at the Biden Harris Inauguration left an indelible mark on the mind’s of Americans watching. Her words both inspired and challenged the American people as an administration that used words to cause division and chaos came to a close, and a more hopeful one began. Amanda Gorman, Los Angeles native, has loved poetry since she was in elementary school. She was encouraged by her mother, Joan Wicks, a teacher, to write. Although, she struggled with performing her work due to a speech impediment. By watching and drawing confidence from leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, she was able to overcome this. In 2014, Gorman was named the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles and she later became the nation’s first ever national youth poet laureate. After high school, Gorman attended Harvard University and studied sociology. At just 22 years old, after graduating from Harvard, Amanda Gorman was selected by the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, a fan of Gorman’s work, to present her poem at the 2021 inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet.

The wordsmith uses her poetry as a tool for activism and change. Feminism, oppression, racism, and marginalization are issues often brought up in Gorman’s work. She has also spoken out on the issues of police brutality, abortion bans, and the incarceration of migrant children within her poetry. In her piece “The Hill We Climb”, she discusses many prominent topics and issues that have arisen over the past 4 years. Her lines “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace” and “what just is, isn’t always justice” refer to the racial inequality, division, and hatred that have torn the nation apart. Gorman mentions the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol that happened just a week before the inauguration. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.” Ultimately, though, Amanda Gorman’s brilliant poem is a message of hope. She celebrates Kamala Harris becoming the first person of color and female vice president in her line, “Where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president.” She writes of the dream of a country striving to become unified, merciful, and composed of many cultures, characters, and colors. The ending of her piece is a challenge to the American people to see and to be the light that the United States needs in this “never-ending shade.”

Her beautiful poem captured the minds of America and of our SoarBlue team on January 20, 2021. In light of her incredible performance, SoarBlue has released stickers featuring a photo of Gorman and two with her words from “The Hill We Climb.” The words on these stickers have inspired millions and SoarBlue hopes to further her call for positive change, kindness, and healing.

I'm Grace Maddox, an undergraduate student at the University of Arkansas. I am studying Political Science and African American studies and hope to attend law school after graduating. I have a passion for social issues, inequalities, and injustices that too often harm marginalized communities in this country. I hope to use this blog to bring awareness to issues, promote positive change, and to inspire hope.