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Who is Amanda Gorman?

I'm Rachelle, a.k.a "TheMotleyChick," a lover of eclectic but ordinary people, situations, and topics who loves sharing helpful resources.

who-is-amanda-gorman

Most of us are familiar with Amanda Gorman from her appearance at the inauguration ceremony for United States President, Joe Biden, which was held on January 20th, 2021.

On that chilly morning, Gorman recited her poem, "The Hill We Climb." She wrote the poem partly in response to the violent terrorist attack against the 117th United States Congress at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Gorman's delivery of her poem was both powerful and graceful, it brought tears to the eyes of former presidents and it endeared her into the hearts and minds of intelligent listeners all around the world. But, who is Amanda Gorman, and where in the world did such a bright an beautiful young woman come from?

Joan Wicks is Amanda Gorman's mother, she is a 6th Grade English teacher.

Joan Wicks is Amanda Gorman's mother, she is a 6th Grade English teacher.

Early History

Amanda S.C. Gorman was born in Los Angeles, California on March 7, 1998. She was raised in a single parent home in Watts, headed by her mother, Joan Wicks, an English teacher at Jack H. Skirball Middle School.

As an educator, her mother reared her three children in an atmosphere with a strong reverence for academics. The children had restrictive access to television, so Amanda's primary form of entertainment was reading and writing.

Gorman's twin sister, Gabrielle Gorman, is an activist and an accomplished filmmaker who graduated in 2020 from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The family was raised in the Catholic faith, and they attend St. Brigid Catholic Church L.A.

Amanda Gorman's twin sister, Gabrielle Gorman is a Filmmaker and an activist/

Amanda Gorman's twin sister, Gabrielle Gorman is a Filmmaker and an activist/

Amanda Gorman was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder in kindergarten. The disorder renders her highly sensitive to sound, and she also has speech articulation issues that make it difficult for her to pronounce different words and sounds.

Her participation in speech therapy and her positive, forward-thinking state of mind helped her to embrace her impediments and use them to her advantage. She honed her skills in reading and writing and she watched them grow exponentially, despite the unique barriers she faced.

She attended the New Road School, which is a small private school in Santa Monica, CA. One of the school's stated tenets is to "incubate independent thinkers."
Gorman took part in high school workshops put on by the WriteGirl program, which counts actress Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) and Gina Prince-Bythewood, director of The Secret Life of Bees (2008), among its past mentors.

In her senior year at New Roads, Gorman was the recipient of a Milken Family Foundation Scholarship and she went on to attend Harvard College with a major in sociology.

While at Harvard, she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, which is the oldest and most prestigious honor society in the United States, and she graduated cum laude in 2020.

Career Highlights and Timeline of Accomplishments

2013:

United Nations Youth Delegate

2014:

Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles

2015:

Publication of a poetry book, "The One for Whom Food is Not Enough."

2016:

Founded the organziation, "One Pen One Page," a youth writing and leadership program.

2017:

Became the first author featured on XQ Institute's Book of the Month; wrote a tribute for black athletes for Nike; penned a two book deal with Viking Children's Books; became the first youth poet to open the literary season for the Library of Congress and she read her poetry on MTV; penned "In This Place: An American Lyric" for her performance at the Library of Congress at their event held to commemorate Tracy K. Smith as the Poet Laureate of the United States.

Gorman applied to be the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, as part of a spoken word program that former First Lady, Michelle Obama, helped to spearhead during her time in the White House.

In April of that year, while she was still a sophomore at Harvard, a 19 year old Amanda Gorman defeated five other candidates to win the coveted title.

At the time of her prestigious designation, Gorman was still not widely known to the public. Nonetheless, she was spurred on by the likes of former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady, Hillary Clinton as well as
Grammy, Emmy and Tony award winning actress, singer and songwriter, Cynthia Erivo.

To end out the eventful year, the OZY media company chose Gorman, along with 10 other scholars, to be granted $10,000 in an effort to have them pursue their innovative ideas.

2018:

Selected as one of Glamour magazine's 2018 "College Women of the Year."

2019:

Chosen as one of The Root magazine's "Young Futurists."

2020

Appeared in a webisode of "Some Good News," where she met Oprah Winfrey and John Krasinski - this event was held virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic; presented her poem "Earthrise" which focuses on global warming and climate change, and their consequences.

The Inauguration of Joe Biden

Sometime after former President Barack Obama's Vice President, Joseph Robinette Biden, became President Elect, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden recommended Amanda Gorman for the inauguration.

After the horrific events of January 6, 2021, when a mob of angry and viscous Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol in an attempt to steal ballots and harm members of Congress, Gorman amended the wording of her poem, "The Hill We Climb."

In the week before the inauguration, she told Washington Post book critic, Ron Charles, "My hope is that my poem will represent a moment of unity for our country" and "with my words, I'll be able to speak to a new chapter and era for our nation."

On an appearance at CBS This Morning, she stated that she prepares herself for her poetry readings by voicing the following mantra, "I am the daughter of black writers. We're descended from freedom fighters who broke through chains and changed the world. They call me.' And that is the way in which I prepare myself for the duty that needs to get done."

As she took the stage for the presidential inauguration, her words echoed in effectual, compelling verse, a message of the necessity of unity, healing and hope. Even with the presence of mega-stars like Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, it was Amanda Gorman who electrified the stage.

Gorman says she took oratorical cues from the likes of Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., and she has been likened to Maya Angelou by the press, academicians, politicians, celebrities and members of the public alike.

Much like Amanda Gorman, the late poet, Maya Angelou, was also afflicted by speech issues as a child (she was mute for a long period), but both women conquered their issues and they grew up to deliver inaugural poems for U.S. Presidents-in Angelou's case, it was for President Bill Clinton.

Since her performance at the Biden inauguration, Gorman's two upcoming books, The Hill We Climb and Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, have shot up to the top of the bestseller lists.

She has also been signed to IMG models international modeling agency, which represents Tyra Banks, Niki Taylor, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne and Gisele Bündchen among many others.

The book version of The Hill We Climb is slated to be released on March 16, 2021, there will be one million first printings and a forward by Oprah Winfrey.

Seeing the ways that I as a young black woman can inspire people is something I want to continue in politics. I don’t want to just speak words; I want to turn them into realities and actions.

— Amanda Gorman

Long before her historic and much lauded recital at the Biden inauguration, Gorman had been in talks with Super Bowl officials for a performance at the big game.

On February 7, 2021, she made Super Bowl history as the first poet to perform at the event. She recited an original poem at the pregame ceremony of the Superbowl LV game (55).

In her performance, she honored COVID-19 era front-line workers and three honorary game captains chosen by the NFL: Marine Corps veteran James Martin, COVID ICU nurse manager, Suzie Dorner, and educator Trimaine Davis.

who-is-amanda-gorman

Amanda Gorman is an artist, an activist and a feminist who uses her poetry as a medium to highlight issues of oppression and marginalization and she has stated her intention to run for president in 2036.

During Gorman's inaugural performance, Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the young poet's presidential aspiration-no doubt, many of us share the former Secretary of State's sentiments.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Rachelle Williams

Comments

Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on February 15, 2021:

Hey Peggy. I wholeheartedly agree! Thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 15, 2021:

She is an amazing young woman, and I am sure that we will be hearing from and about her long into the future.

Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on February 15, 2021:

Thank you so much Fran for your comments, and your compliment. I too believe that so much more is coming from this talented young lady.

Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on February 15, 2021:

Ms. Dora, yes indeed! I am so proud of her as a woman, a black woman and an American! You are too kind to liken me to her...if only :)

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on February 15, 2021:

Rachelle, what an amazing article about an amazing poet. Amanda was so inspiring as a speaker at the Inauguration and at half-time at the Super Bowl. She has already accomplished so much and I know more is coming. Wonderfully written! Thank you for your article.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 15, 2021:

Thanks for this excellent article informing us about the phenomenal woman and poet Amanda Gorman. She did us, women; us blacks; us Americans really proud. Rachel, something about you resembles her, or vice versa. Bless you both!

Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on February 15, 2021:

I welcome the opportunity to hear more from Amanda Gorman! Thank you so much for your encouragement, Liz!

Liz Westwood from UK on February 15, 2021:

This is an interesting and very well written article. It seems that we will be hearing much more from this talented poet-activst in the future.

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