Opinion: Amanda Gorman is both our inspiration and our future


Credit: Courtesy of Flikr user Clark R. Arrington

WSPN’s Julia Raymond takes a deeper look at poet and activist Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Day speech and the inspiration it provided to the entire world.

There were many high profile performers on this year’s Inauguration Day, but there was one lesser-known one, Amanda Gorman. Gorman is a Harvard graduate who was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. Not only is she a poet, but she is an activist for women’s rights. She focuses on the issues of oppression, race, feminism, marginalization and the African Diaspora.

Gorman gave a powerful, five-minute performance after Biden was sworn in. She recited The Hill We Climb, a poem she had written the day of the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6. Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, was the one who chose Gorman to perform at the inauguration. Jill and her husband had seen her perform at the Library of Congress and were impressed, so they invited her into the inaugural address team.

There is one thing that makes Gorman’s speech so meaningful—her auditory processing disorder. She has trouble pronouncing certain letters that only a few years ago she could pronounce. To this day, she still has trouble pronouncing the letter “r,” which can be a struggle when she says the word “rise” several times throughout her speech. It was hard to overcome this challenge and recite a five-minute poem in front of millions of people, but she proved successful. She also has something in common with the president—they have both struggled with a stutter since a young age. They share the same struggle with public speaking, but both persist to share their powerful words with the world.

Gorman’s message on Inauguration Day was not only about our country, but about facing challenges. Gorman gave hope to those all around the world with auditory disorders for a chance to improve at public speaking. There is nothing worse than having so much to say and not knowing how to say it. Often, people with speech problems can feel powerless when talking, but she helped people find a voice. Gorman also began reading much later than other kids in kindergarten, but now she is an incredible writer.

Not only did Gorman serve as an inspiration to people overcoming auditory problems, she is also an inspiration to girls. It was empowering for me as a woman to see such a young woman give a powerful speech on one of the most important days in history. In 2012, Gorman enrolled in the L.A. nonprofit WriteGirl, an organization that promotes creativity and self-expression to empower girls. Gorman mentioned in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that it was their support that made her chase her dreams. This organization helped Gorman find her voice, and hopefully, her speech helps young girls find their voices as well.

One line from Gorman’s speech read, “everyone shall sit under their own vine, and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.” This line highlights the importance of coming together as one, despite our differences and goes back to her message of facing challenges and overcoming obstacles because right now, there are a lot of them.