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Miami school limits access to Biden inauguration poem

  • Published
    19 hours ago

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US poet Amanda Gorman says a Florida school has banned younger readers from accessing the poem she recited at President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

A Miami-Dade County school said it moved the poem, The Hill We Climb, from the elementary library section to the middle school section.

The move came after a parent asked the school to remove the poem entirely, according to documents obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project.


Gorman was “gutted” by the news.

“I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment,” she said in a post on social media, adding that because of one parent’s complaint, younger readers at the school could no longer access it.

She added that book bans like these were on the rise in the US.

In a statement, the Miami-Dade school district said it “was determined at the school that ‘The Hill We Climb’ is better suited for middle school students and, it was shelved in the middle school section of the media center,” adding that the book remains available there.

Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate in the US, received widespread praise for the poem, in which she described herself as “a skinny black girl descended from slaves” who “can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one”.

But in March, a parent of two students at Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes complained about Gorman’s poem, claiming it had indirect “hate messages”, according to records obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project and seen by the Miami Herald.

The parent asked the school to remove several other books as well, including the ABCs of Black History, Cuban Kids and Countries in the News Cuba, alleging the titles referenced critical race theory and indoctrination. The complaint led the school to review the titles, after which it decided to put Gorman’s poem on the shelves for older children instead because the vocabulary was “of value for middle school students”.

The book challenges come a year after the state’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay”, which banned instruction related to gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade.

In a tweet responding to the school district’s statement, Gorman argued a school book ban is “any action taken against a book that leaves access to a book restricted or diminished”.

“This decision of moving my book from its original place… diminishes the access elementary schoolers would have previously had to my poem,” she said.

The 25-year-old said she had received “countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb” since they heard her recite it at the Capitol.

At age 22, Gorman was the youngest poet ever to perform at a presidential inauguration.

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