Due to the complaint of one of the mothers, the song of the Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, which she wrote for the inauguration of President Biden, was placed on the list of “forbidden” works in an elementary school in Florida.
In a post on Facebook, Amanda Gorman has already pledged to fight the withdrawal. Over the song The hill we are climbing (The Hill We Climb) complained the mother of two students at the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes.
“I’m desperate,” wrote Amanda Gorman. “To rob children of the right to find their voice in literature is a violation of their right to freedom of thought and freedom of speech.” The poet, who received the title of American Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 19, said in her own words that she wrote the poem to “all young people could see themselves in a historic moment”. Since then, she says, she has received countless letters and videos from children who have followed her example and started writing their own songs.
Amanda Gorman came to the attention of the general American public at the inauguration of President Biden: she was the youngest poet at the event since 1961, when Robert Frost was invited to the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.
The poem seeks the lightIn a song The Hill We Climb the author incorporates a wide variety of references, from the Bible to the musical Hamilton, and also alludes to the speeches of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King. “When the day comes, we ask ourselves where we can find the light in this endless shadow.” (When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?),” he announces in the opening verse. He gives the answer below through his own life story.
The idea of the composition was to accompany Biden’s inauguration with a message of hope, but in such a way that “does not deny the evidence of discord and schism”. Indeed, the song was about halfway written when the attack on the Capitol by supporters of the outgoing President Trump took place on January 6.
The song will continue to be available for upper-grade children in the elementary school media center, school district representative Ana Rhodes emphasized in a press release.
Governor DeSantis campaignBook bans are not a new phenomenon, of course, but they have recently become more common in the United States, especially in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis – to the outrage of many – introduced legislation that allows the censorship of books that some consider inappropriate for children in schools.
DeSantis, who officially entered the 2024 presidential race this week, appeals to conservative voters with policies that lean heavily on cultural divides around issues of race, sexuality and gender.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has already condemned the song’s ban and announced that the current administration led by President Biden supports Amanda Gorman. “The president was proud to have her perform at his inauguration. Banning books is censorship, period. It limits American freedom — the freedom of Americans — and we should all oppose such moves.”
A single complaint was enough to convene the Daily Salinas Commission, the Florida mom who complained about Poem 8 and two other books), told the Miami Herald that she “does not advocate destroying or censoring any books.” She would only like, she says, to make the children’s reading “appropriate,” but she did not explain what she did not find appropriate in Amanda Gorman’s verse.
Her complaint was considered by a committee consisting of three teachers, an expert from the media center and the principal. One of the challenged books was deemed suitable for all ages, while the other book and poem were “more suitable” for students in the final three years and were therefore moved to the section for older students.
“Let’s say it out loud: most of the banned works were written by authors who had previously struggled for generations to even get on the bookshelves,” the poet underlined in her announcement. “Most of the works that are subject to censorship are written by queer and non-white voices.”