Amanda Gorman's poem for Biden's inauguration banned by Florida school
May 24   

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Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A poem written for President Joe Biden's inauguration has been placed on a restricted list at a South Florida elementary school after one parent's complaint.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, poet Amanda Gorman vowed to fight back. Her poem, "The Hill We Climb" was challenged by the parent of two students at Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, along with several books.

"I'm gutted," she wrote. "Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.''

Gorman, who at 17 became the country's National Youth Poet Laureate, said she wrote the poem "The Hill We Climb," so "all young people could see themselves in a historical moment," and that she's received countless letters and videos from children who were inspired to write their own poems.

She became an international sensation at Biden's inauguration, where she was the youngest poet to read at the ceremony since Robert Frost was invited to John F. Kennedy's in 1961.

In "The Hill We Climb," Gorman references everything from Biblical scripture to "Hamilton," and at times echoes the oratory of Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. With urgency and assertion she begins by asking, "Where can we find light/In this never-ending shade?" and used her own poetry and life story as an answer.

She said she planned to share a message of hope for Biden's inauguration without ignoring "the evidence of discord and division." She had completed a little more than half of the poem before Jan. 6 and the siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

The poem and books are still available in the media center for middle school- aged children, Ana Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade school district, said in a statement.

While book bans are not new, they are happening much more frequently, especially in Florida - where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has championed policies that allow the censorship of books some have deemed inappropriate for children in schools, causing national uproar. By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023