Meet Amanda Gorman, the 22-Year-Old Poet Who Made History at the Inauguration
This year's presidential inauguration brought on quite a few historical firsts — most notably that Kamala Harris is now the first woman vice president, first Black vice president, and first Asian-American vice president the U.S. has ever had. (And it's about time, TYVM.) If you've been following along with the inauguration, then you also saw another person who made history: Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in the U.S. at age 22. (Related: What Vice President Kamala Harris' Win Means to Me)
Only five poets have recited their work at presidential inaugurations in the past, including Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, according to The New Yorker. Today Gorman was selected to take part in the tradition, becoming the youngest poet ever to do so.
During today's inauguration, Gorman read her poem, "The Hill We Climb." She told the New York Times she was about halfway through writing the poem when rioters stormed the Capitol in early January. Seeing the riots unfold, she said she added new verses to finish out the poem, including the following:
Beyond her role in today's inauguration, Gorman has accomplished a lot during her 22 years on earth. The poet/activist recently graduated from Harvard with a BA in sociology. She also founded One Pen One Page, an organization that aims to elevate the voices of young writers and storytellers through online and in-person creative initiatives. "For me what was critical about starting an organization such as that was not only to try to increase literacy in workshops through giving resources to underserved kids, but it was to connect literacy to the project of democracy, to fundamentally see reading and writing as instruments for social change," Gorman said of her intentions for creating the organization in an interview with PBS. "That was a type of lineage I really wanted to establish."
Thanks to her hard work, Gorman became the first National Youth Poet Laureate, a title in the U.S. presented annually to a teen poet who demonstrates literary talent and commitment to community engagement and youth leadership. (Related: Kerry Washington and Activist Kendrick Sampson Spoke About Mental Health In the Fight for Racial Justice)
Today might not be the last time you see Gorman taking part in a presidential inauguration — the poet confirmed in her PBS interview that she's planning on a future run for president and is in the midst of weighing out her hashtag options. Gorman 2036!