This Is a Hill We All Must Climb Toward Just and Honorable Society—

I will share with you that I approached the
inauguration of our president Joseph R. Biden
with excitement, but fear as well. The horror of the seditious
assault on our nation’s Capitol January 6, 2021 was fresh in
my mind. It’s a sign of our times that my daughter, out of
kindness, said she would watch for me and text me when it
was “safe“ to watch. I got ready to be sure to see the
swearing in ceremony. I missed it by 15 minutes and some
said it was moved forward out of security concerns.
What a world we live in! A divisive political campaign, gut
wrenching attacks on our democracy, all caused me to hope
for a ray of light. What I experienced was not only a ray of
light but a beam of hope. There was something so strong,
though fresh and pure that it raised my spirits in a way I
never expected. I am speaking of the poetry of the poet
laureate of the inauguration, Amanda Gorman, who some
said “stole the show.”
Amanda Gorman, speaking, almost singing her poem “The
Hill We Climb“ awakens my hope for a better tomorrow. Here
was a young woman with great insight, intelligence and
creative talent inspiring us all. I would like to share with you
her story. Her youth gave me hope for the future. Rather
than looking backward at the great leaders of the past I can
now look forward to a wonderful leader of the future. Here is
part of the story of Amanda Gorman, The following
information is from Wikipedia:
Amanda S. C. Gorman (born in Los
Angeles, CA in 1998) is an American poet
and activist. Her work focuses on issues of
oppression, feminism, race, and
marginalization, as well as the African
diaspora. Gorman was the first person to
be named National Youth Poet Laureate.
She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not
Enough in 2015. In 2021, she delivered her poem, The Hill We
Climb at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Her
inauguration poem generated international acclaim,
stimulated her two books to reach best-seller status, and
earned her a professional management contract.
Gorman and her two siblings were raised by her single
mother, Joan Wicks, a 6th-grade English teacher in Watts. She
has a twin sister, Gabrielle, who is an activist and filmmaker.
Gorman has said she grew up in an environment with limited
television access. She has described her young self as a
“weird child” who enjoyed reading and writing and was
encouraged by her mother.
Gorman has an auditory processing disorder and is

hypersensitive to sound. She also had a speech impediment
during childhood. Gorman participated in speech therapy
during her childhood and Elida Kocharian of The Harvard
Crimson wrote in 2018, “Gorman doesn’t view her speech
impediment as a crutch—rather, she sees it as a gift and a
strength.” Gorman told The Harvard Gazette in 2018, “I
always saw it as a strength. I was experiencing these
obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, so I
became really good at reading and writing. I realized that at
a young age when I was reciting the Marianne Deborah
Williamson quote that ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are
inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful
beyond measure’ to my mom
Gorman attended New Roads, a private school in Santa
Monica, for grades K–12. As a senior, she received a Milken
Family Foundation college scholarship. She studied
sociology at Harvard College, graduating cum laude in 2020
as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Career—Gorman’s art and activism focuses on issues of
oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as
the African diaspora. She has said she was inspired to
become a youth delegate for the United Nations in 2013
after watching a speech by Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate
Malala Yousafzai. Gorman was chosen as the youth poet
laureate of Los Angeles in 2014. In 2014 it was reported that
Gorman was “editing the first draft of a novel she has been
writing over the last two years.” She published the poetry
book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015.
In 2016, Gorman founded the nonprofit organization One
Pen One Page, a youth writing and leadership program. In
2017, she became the first author to be featured on XQ
Institute’s Book of the Month, a monthly giveaway to share
inspiring Gen Z’s favorite books. She wrote a tribute for
Black athletes for Nike and she has a contract with Viking
Children’s Books to write two children’s picture books.
In 2017, Gorman became the first youth poet to open the
literary season for the Library of Congress, and she has read
her poetry on MTV.
While at Harvard, Gorman became the first person to be
named National Youth Poet Laureate in April 2017.
In 2017, Gorman won a $10,000 grant from media company

OZY in the annual OZY Genius Awards through which
10 college students are given “the opportunity to pursue their
outstanding ideas and envisioned innovations.”
In 2017, Gorman said she intends to run for president in
2036, and she has subsequently often repeated this hope. On
being selected as one of Glamour magazine’s 2018 College
Women of the Year, she said: “Seeing the ways that I as a
young black woman can inspire people is something I want to
continue in politics. I don’t want to just speak words; I want to
turn them into realities and actions. After she read her poem
The Hill We Climb at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in
2021, Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for Gorman’s 2036
aspiration.
2021 Presidential Inauguration—Gorman read her poem
The Hill We Climb at the inauguration of Joe Biden on January
20, 2021, and is the youngest poet in United States history to
read at a presidential inauguration. Jill Biden recommended
her for the inauguration. After January 6, 2021, Gorman
amended her poem’s wording to address the storming of the
United States Capitol. During the week before the
inauguration, she told Washington Post book critic Ron
Charles, “My hope is that my poem will represent a moment of
unity for our country” and “with my words, I’ll be able to speak
to a new chapter and era for our nation.”
Soon after Gorman’s performance at the inauguration, her
two upcoming books, the poetry collection The Hill We Climb
and a project for youth, Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem,
were at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. Both are scheduled
to be released in September 2021. A book version of the poem
“The Hill We Climb” is scheduled to be released on March 16,
2021, with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey, and each of
Gorman’s three upcoming books will have first printings of one
million copies.
IMG Models and its parent company WME signed Gorman
for representation in fashion, beauty, and talent
endorsements.
In conclusion, We can say that there are “hills” we all must
climb. We must overcome explicit and implicit racism, we must
overcome a lack of empathy and caring, and we must climb a
hill toward peace, justice and equity. It is a daunting task but
we can do it. We have the strength, we have the capacity, we
have the responsibility. Amanda Gorman sharing her poem as
poet laureate at our presidential inauguration gave such hope
and such a positive vision of the future. We have not only the
responsibility but the capacity to change and climb the “hill” to
a more just, peaceful and equitable society.
Fondly,
for the Diversity Committee

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