Amanda Gorman is ‘furious’ over school district’s decision to restrict her ‘The Hill We Climb’ poem after a parent complained it contained ‘hateful messages’
The acclaimed poem written by Amanda Gorman for President Joe Biden’s inauguration was moved from elementary school at a Miami-Dade County public school after a parent complaint and school review, the district confirmed Tuesday.
A parent of a student at the Bob Graham Education Center — a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Miami Lakes — objected to Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb,” which they mistakenly attributed to Oprah Winfrey as the author/publisher, according to documents that was first obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project, whose authenticity was confirmed by CNN.
It “is not educational and has (sic) indirect messages of hate,” the complaint said, adding that the poem would “create confusion 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 about Cuba, show complaints obtained by the nonprofit group.
A materials review panel at the school declined to remove the books from the school entirely, but did decide to move the Gorman poem and two other disputed items to the library’s middle school section, which is for grades six through eight, according to minutes of an April committee meeting obtained by nonprofit.
The poem’s removal is the latest consequence of a Florida law that requires the approval of books in classrooms and gives any parent the power to complain about specific works. Under Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican running for president, Florida has used this and other “parental rights” laws to ban works on LGBTQ issues, social justice and even math textbooks.
Gorman, the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, was 22 when she performed “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s 2021 inauguration. Inspired by the Capitol uprising two weeks earlier, the 700-word poem criticized the “force that would crush our nation instead to share it” and spoke about the need for justice and social change.
“The new dawn blooms as we free it,” she finished 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 launched her to national stardom, including appearances at the Super Bowl, on the covers of Time and Vogue, and at the top of bestseller lists.
Gorman was “appalled” 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. Ever since, I have 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 voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and expression.”
Miami-Dade County’s mayor invited Gorman to visit for a reading on Wednesday.
“Your poem inspired our youth to become active participants in their government and to help shape the future. We want you to come to Miami-Dade to read your poem. If you join, we will coordinate,” Daniella Levine Cava further wrote Twitter.
In a statement to CNN Tuesday night, Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesman Elmo Lugo said, “No literature (books or poems) has been banned or removed.”
“It was determined at the school that ‘The Hill We Climb’ is better suited for middle school students and it was shelved in the middle school section of the media center. The book remains available in the media center,” he said.