Amanda Gorman, in her breathtaking and historical inaugural poem, inspired me to hope and act


Grace Davidson

The Potomac Current’s staff artist, Grace Davidson, captures Amanda Gorman’s message of strength in the face of division, and hope for America’s future.

Ali O'Brien, Co-Editor-in-Chief

 On January 20th, while much of the world watched the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest inaugural poet, made history as she eloquently recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” 

I sat glued to the screen with chills as Gorman spoke with immense compassion of our country’s deepest divides. I felt called upon to leave behind a world better than I found it and to acknowledge the women who came before me and did just that. Gorman’s poem also echoed the message of the early Biden Administration: the new presidency will be one that prioritizes tolerance and champions diversity. 

In her poem, Gorman writes, 

“We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.”

While addressing the challenges facing America today, Gorman’s message was one of hope and possibility. I felt inspired by her ability to break barriers and the bravery required to be the first African-American, the first female, and the youngest Youth Poet Laureate. 

Gorman was not the only one who made history on Wednesday. She joined Kamala Harris, the first woman ever elected to the vice presidency, Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay cabinet member, General Lloyd Austin, the first Black Secretary of Defense, the first all-female senior communications team, and more. 

After listening to Gorman’s poem on Inauguration Day, I was so moved by her message, that I decided to learn more about how she ended up reciting for a future President.  I learned that when writing, she asks herself two questions: Whose shoulders do you stand on and what do you stand for?

Her thoughtful reflection on these two powerful questions was apparent to me in “The Hill We Climb.” As a daughter of an immigrant and identifying as multiracial woman, I share the experience that Gorman noted, of being unable to find people who look like her in positions of power. 

Her poem reignites hope and the importance of personal responsibility in creating the world that I want for myself and future generations.

 She presents the challenges of this time as an opportunity to “lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us,” and to take action now so that in the future we can say, “that even as we grieved, we grew, that even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired, we tried.”

She highlighted that the problems we face today are not individual ones but, rather, collective challenges that we must work together to address. While progress might feel slow at times, Gorman conveyed the importance of staying in the fight—we must and can do better. 

Gorman’s barrier-breaking achievements should serve as a catalyst for all young people to use their voices, regardless of age. 

In Gorman’s poem, I heard a clear message: use your voice, your pen, your words to drive change, “for there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”