Amanda Gorman Makes History Again
History isn't just a subject to study: history is made every day. As we celebrate Black History Month this February, history is being made by Amanda Gorman, a 22-year old from Los Angeles.
The nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda will soon become the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl. Her poem will celebrate three ordinary heroes that have served the nation in its fight against the coronavirus: teacher Trimaine Davis, nurse Suzie Dorner and marine veteran James Martin.
In January, Amanda also made history as the youngest Inaugural poet, performing her poem The Hill We Climb in honor of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who made some history herself that day as the first female, black and Asian vice president.
Her Inauguration poem spoke powerfully and directly about the riots that took place at the Capital on Wednesday January 6, just two weeks before the inauguration. But The Hill We Climb is ultimately a statement of hope and determination, a call to engagement, activism and healing:
"I wanted it to be a message of hope and unity. And I think that Wednesday for me really just underscored how much that was needed," she said. "But to not turn a blind eye to the cracks that really need to be filled."
Like Joe Biden, who stuttered as a child, Amanda has worked hard to overcome adversity. Because she had trouble pronouncing some words, she used poetry as therapy.
"I had a speech impediment. And so I couldn't use my voice, then I would author my voice on the page. So it's really been a godsend and a lifeline for me," she said.
"And so once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, 'you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn't enough for me. I have to give them breath and life, I have to perform them as I am.' That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment," she said.
Inauguration image courtesy of DOD by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II
Amanda’s artistic journey began at the creative writing workshops run by WriteGirl, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that promotes creativity and self-expression to empower girls.
"WriteGirl has been pivotal in my life. It's been thanks to their support that I've been able to chase my dreams as a writer," she told NBC.
She also became a youth delegate for the United Nations. "It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could accomplish," she said.
Amanda was named the first-ever Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate at 16. She started a community project called One Pen One Page focused on literacy and youth activism.
"Literacy is really the gateway to activating democracy. We become better activists, better engaged citizens; better community members when we can use language, knowledge, and education to communicate and actualize social change.”
The following year, she published her first poetry collection, "The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough." Amanda was honored as the first National Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 19. She graduated from Harvard in 2020.
Amanda is also the first person to announce her intention to run for president in 2036, when she’ll finally be old enough to run. She told the L.A. Times that Vice President Harris has inspired her plan to run for office.
"There's no denying that a victory for her is a victory for all of us who would like to see ourselves represented as women of color in office," she said. "It makes it more imaginable. Once little girls can see it, little girls can be it. Because they can be anything that they want, but that representation to make the dream exist in the first place is huge—even for me."
At Girl Up Collection, we are dedicated to making sure that every girl has that chance to see it and be it. Every day we are working to unlock the potential of the leaders of the future by supporting the Girl Up initiative of the United Nations Foundation.
The Girl Up Collection pays tribute to fearless girls and the confident women they become all over the world. We hope wearing it makes you feel invincible enough to overcome any obstacle. And you’ll be sharing your strength with girls around the world: 5% of your purchase goes to fund Girl Up programs that empower girls.
Having Amanda shine on the national stage has inspired a lot of other little girls to see new possibilities in activism, poetry and politics too. She’s embodies the Fearless Girl spirit, ready to climb every hill and show us the view. We know she’ll be making more history in the future: Amanda Gorman for President 2036!