Amanda Gorman charged officials at a school in Miami-Dade County, Florida, after elementary students were barred from reading the poem she recited at President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential inauguration titled “The Hill We Climb“.
The poem, which has been published as a short book, will henceforth, only be accessible to middle school students at the pre-K through eighth grade Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, Florida.
Amanda Gorman’s publisher – Penguin Random House – is joining PEN America and others in a lawsuit challenging book restrictions.
“I’m gutted,” Amanda Gorman said about the Bob Graham Education Center’s decision to ban her work from the students it serves. The decision was made after one parent complained, Gorman wrote.
“So they ban my book from young readers, fail to specify what parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews, and offer no alternatives. Unnecessary #bookbans like these are on the rise, and we must fight back,” she said.
She included a copy of a complaint form that states her book “is not educational” and contains “hate messages.” The form also says the complainant believes the purpose of the book is to “cause confusion and Indoctrinate students.”
How It Started
The complaint that led to Bob Graham Education Center restricting elementary-age students’ access to Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” came from a mom of two students at the school. According to the parent’s complaint, in all, five titles in the school’s library weren’t age appropriate.
A school materials review committee made up of a few Bob Graham teachers and several administrators deemed four items as more appropriate for middle school students than for elementary-age students. The other three titles that were shifted to the middle school age group are “The ABCs of Black History,” which was written for an audience of 5 years old and up, “Cuban Kids,” and “Love to Langston.”
Miami-Dade school officials also said that the books were not banned totally.
“No literature (books or poem) has been banned or removed,” the district said in a statement. “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. The book remains available in the media center.”
But Gorman says her poem is important reading for children and has been a source of inspiration to many.
“I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems,” she wrote. “Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.”