This afternoon, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman made history reciting an original poem at the inauguration of President Joe Biden as the youngest inaugural poet ever. Following Lady Gaga’s powerful rendition of the national anthem, Gorman took the stage in bright yellow and read “The Hill We Climb” to celebrate the occasion. “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,” she recited from the poem she finished on the night of the Capitol riots. In 2017, Gorman became the first National Youth Poet Laureate, just three years after being named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Dr. Jill Biden saw Gorman recite “In This Place: An American Lyric” at the Library of Congress in 2017 and contacted her about writing an original poem for the swearing-in ceremony just last month. The result is a timeless passage determined to face the future.
The young poet had the spirits of strong Black women with her at the lectern this afternoon, and not just Vice-President Kamala Harris’s. Oprah Winfrey sent Gorman the gold earrings she wore, just as she had sent Maya Angelou a Chanel coat when she spoke at Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. And Gorman continues the legacy of another Black woman poet, Elizabeth Alexander, who spoke at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Watch Amanda Gorman recite her historic poem, “The Hill We Climb,” above.