Amanda Gorman: The Hill She Climbs

By Lou Solomon

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Before her appearance at the inauguration of President Joe Biden, I had not heard the name Amanda Gorman. But when she stepped up to the microphone in that amazing yellow coat and recited her poem “The Hill We Climb,” I was certain the entire world would know her name going forward. The striking image of her standing with no fear that day stays with you.

Gorman’s powerful imagery, commanding voice, unhurried pacing, and dance-like gestures made “The Hill We Climb” one of the highlights of the inauguration.

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated…”

 

— Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”

What I didn’t know was that Gorman had been gathering momentum as a phenom and having her genius recognized for more than five years before the Inauguration.

It all combusted when at 21, Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. She captured the hearts of a huge number of the 33.8 million people who watched that day.

We Will Rise…

Immediately, social media blew up and she rocketed into the mainstream consciousness. In February 2021, she was highlighted in Time magazine’s Top Next 100 People, with a profile written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Gorman’s two books, the poetry collection The Hill We Climb with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey, and a project for youth, Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, were at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list.

She became the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl when she delivered her poem “Chorus of the Captains” at Super Bowl LV. Recently, she shared her new poem “New Day’s Lyric” with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen to ring in 2022 on CNN’s New Year’s Countdown.

Gorman is on her way now toward infinite possibilities. But for me and so many others, she will forever be that young woman in an amazing yellow coat, standing with no fear, on a day when we needed her inspiration most.

We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons 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.

 

— Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”

Watch Amanda’s Inaugural Poetry Reading

Click here to see the full list of Interact Studio’s Authentic People of 2021.

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