Amanda Gorman, the American poet who shot to international stardom when she recited The Hill We Climb at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, has vowed to defeat book bans in Florida after the poem was removed for reading to elementary school children in a Miami educational institution. Dade County.
Gorman, 25, said she was “gutted” to learn that a complaint from a single parent led to her opening poem being banned from the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes.
The poem was one of five books challenged by a parent for children at the school, including The ABCs of Black History and books about Cuba.
IN the complaintthe parent mistakenly listed Oprah Winfrey as the author of The Hill We Climb, saying she objected to the poem because it was “not edifying and has indirect messages of hate”.
Gorman fought back in a lengthy posts on social media.
“So they ban my book from young readers, mistake me for Oprah, fail to specify which parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews and offer no alternatives…Unnecessary book bans like these are on the rise and we must fight back,” she said.
The poet invited supporters to donate to the writers’ group PEN America, which she said had joined with her publisher, Penguin Random House, to file a lawsuit challenging book restrictions in Florida.
“Depriving children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and expression,” Gorman said.
Book bans have increased in Florida in the wake of a series of laws signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is poised to launch a presidential campaign. The latest legislation, passed earlier this month, requires schools to remove books immediately based on a complaint from a single parent.
According to PEN America, 565 books were banned in Florida schools in the 2021-22 school year.
The Miami Herald, which was the first to report the removal of Gorman’s poem, named the parent who filed the complaint as Daily Salinas, which has two students at Bob Graham.
She told the newspaper that she was “not in favor of eliminating or censoring any books” but she wanted school materials to be appropriate for children.
To support her complaint about indirect “hate messages” allegedly contained in The Hill We Climb, Salinas specifically referenced two pages of the published version of the poem. They read:
We have braved the belly of the beast.
We have learned that silence is not always peace,
And the norms and notions of what “just is”
Is not always justice.
And yet dawn is ours before we know it.
Somehow we do.
Somehow we have weathered and witnessed
A nation that is not broken, but simply unfinished.”