Florida Elementary School Pulls Amanda Gorman’s 2021 Inaugural Poem After Parent Complains
A parent filed a formal complaint in March, writing that it was "not educational and have indirectly [sic] hate messages."
The poet who gained national attention after famously reciting her piece "The Hill We Climb" at President Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration spoke out on social media Tuesday, after reports that a Florida school had banned elementary students from reading her poem.
"I wrote "The Hill We Climb" so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment," Amanda Gorman, 25, wrote in an Instagram post. "Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech."
Gorman first recited the poem at Biden’s inauguration, and it was later published in book format. The book was removed from an elementary school in Miami-Dade County, after a parent filed a formal complaint in March, writing that it was "not educational and have indirectly [sic] hate messages," per documents released by the Florida Freedom to Read Project. The parent also misidentified the poem’s author as Oprah Winfrey in their complaint.
"The Hill We Climb" is one of several books the same parent filed a complaint against. Per Politico, the parent also objected to "The ABCs of Black History," "Cuban Kids," "Countries in the News: Cuba," and "Love to Langston."
Gorman’s publisher, Penguin Random House, has already joined the nonprofit PEN America in a lawsuit that challenges book bans. According to the organization, Florida has one of the highest rates of book removals and restrictions in the country. Gorman wrote about the ongoing effort, saying, "together, this is a hill we won’t just climb, but a hill we will conquer."
A spokesperson for Miami-Dade schools pushed back to Axios about Gorman’s poem having been banned, instead indicating that the district had reconsidered its age-appropriateness. "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," spokesperson Elmo R. Lugo said, via Axios. "The book remains available in the media center."