“The Hill We Climb”: Watch the breathtaking poem by Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history
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AMY GOOD MAN: It is Democracy now!, democratienow.org, The quarantine report. I am Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
One of the most notable moments of Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony came from the inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman of Los Angeles. She is the youngest poet in U.S. history to address a presidential nomination. She became the Los Angeles Young Poet Laureate at the age of 16 in 2014, and then the first National Young Poet Laureate. The 22-year-old poet read her poem “The Hill We Climb”. She finished it right after the riot on Capitol Hill earlier this month. His words captured the nation. This is Amanda Gorman.
AMANDA GORMAN: Mr President, Dr Biden,
Madam Vice-President, Mr. Emhoff,
Americans and the world:
When the day comes, we ask ourselves:
Where can we find the light
In this endless shadow?
The loss we carry, a sea that we must wade through.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We learned that calm is not always peace,
And the norms and notions of what “is fair”
Isn’t that always fair.
And yet the dawn is upon us before we even know it.
In a way, we do.
Somehow we’ve stood and seen
A nation that is not broken, but simply
We, successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny black girl,
Descended from slaves and raised by a
May dream of becoming president,
Only to find himself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polite,
far from virgin.
But that doesn’t mean that we strive to
to form a perfect union.
We strive to forge our union with
To compose a committed country
To all cultures, colors, characters,
And the conditions of man.
And so we don’t look up
To what stands between us,
But what awaits us.
We bridge the gap,
Because we know how to put
Our future first, we must first
Put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
So we can extend our arms to one
We are looking for harm to no one and harmony for all.
Let the globe, at the very least, say it’s true:
That even while weeping, we grew up,
That even though we suffered, we hoped,
That even though we were tired, we tried.
That we will be forever linked together.
Not because we’ll never know again
But because we’ll never sow again
The scriptures tell us to consider that:
“Everyone will sit under their own vineyard
and fig tree,
And no one will scare them.
If we want to live up to our time, then
Won’t lie in the blade, but in all the decks
we have done.
This is the promised clearing,
The hill we climb, if only we dared:
Because being an American is more than
a pride we inherit—
This is the past we enter, and how we
We saw a force that would break our
nation rather than sharing it,
Would destroy our country if that meant
And this effort almost succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically
He can never be definitively defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
‘Cause while our eyes are on the future
History is watching us.
It is the era of righteous redemption.
We feared its creation.
We didn’t feel ready to be the heirs
From such a terrifying hour.
But inside we found the power
To create a new chapter,
To give us hope and laughter.
While once we asked: how could we
maybe outweigh the disaster?
Now we say: How could a disaster
maybe prevail over us?
We won’t go back to what was,
But move on to what will be:
A bruised but whole country,
Benevolent but daring,
Fierce and free.
We will not be returned,
Or interrupted by intimidation,
Because we know our inaction and our inertia
Will be the legacy of the next
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with power, and power
So love becomes our heritage,
And change, the birthright of our children.
So let’s leave a better country behind
than the one we had left.
With every breath of my bronze-
We will raise this wounded world by
We will rise from the golden hills
from the West!
We will rise from the wind
Northeast, where our ancestors first
We will come out of towns bordered by lakes
from the Midwestern states!
We will rise from the sunny south!
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover,
In every known corner of our nation,
In every corner called our country,
Our people, diverse and dedicated.
We will come out, beaten and beautiful.
When the day comes, we leave the
Flaming and fearless.
The new dawn blossoms as we release it,
Because there is always light
If only we’re brave enough to see it,
If only we were brave enough to be.
AMY GOOD MAN: Amanda Gorman, 22, the youngest inaugural poet in US history.
It is Democracy now!, as we end our conversation with Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Public Philosophy Practice at Harvard University, and award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa. In the last few minutes that we have, Professor West, you were in Charlottesville, Virginia, when the Klan marched, when the white supremacists marched. Amanda was writing her poem during the riot, the white supremacist attack on the Capitol. Your final thoughts?
Raven WHERE IS: Just what we’re saying to Brother Biden, you know, when he stood up in front of the Senate, November 18th, 1993, and said, “These black kids are predators on the streets beyond the pale, to be taken out. of society ”, if you want to talk about empathy, you have to extend your empathy to the cousins of the brilliant and visionary poet Amanda on this street. They are human beings, even when they are incarcerated. Extend your sympathy to the immigrants who try to make their way, often coming to a country that was theirs, our Mexican brethren. Extend your sympathy to the poor, whatever their color, to the working class, whatever their color – yes, the Jews hated in France, the Palestinians hated in the West Bank. Where is your concrete empathy and compassion and your recognition of common humanity?
This is the kind of pressure he’s going to have to expect from love warriors, freedom fighters like myself and the Amanda Gormans, with memories of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman and Toni Morrison, and John Coltrane Supreme love.
NERMEEN CHAIKH: And, Maria, your final thoughts?
MARRIED HINOJOSA: Wow! Just also Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells, my founding fathers and founding mothers, right? This is why we are doing this.
Look, the only thing that I – and I try to stay inspired. I am really. Because if not, what happens? So, we just have to realize that those of us who have this understanding of what democracy looks like need to deepen it. OK, sometimes you can relax. You got to take a – you know, relax, whatever. I understand. But we deepen it. That’s why I love being with you, Amy, who I’ve known for years, and Brother West, is because there is such a humanity here. And I think if there is anything Joe Biden and Kamala can do, it would actually be trying to humanize, as Cornel said, the brothers and sisters of our dear poet, Amanda, of so much – is – not? – humanize those who were not born here, like me.
So this is our challenge. As I tell my students – I’m about to start teaching at Barnard any minute, and I’ll say to my students: There are days when you can’t, in fact, be this unifier. So don’t try on these days. The days when we can talk, yes. But you know what? At the same time now, it might not be the time for that now. Give yourself a little break too to take a critical break from what we are seeing and to understand, ultimately, we are much stronger than we realize. We never thought we could go this far. But also, we have not all succeeded. We have not all succeeded. And so, for that, I am very sorry.
But I’m looking at the sun, and I’m incredibly optimistic. Nature is what founds me, and I hope she founds you both too – you three. It was such a pleasure to be with you all.
AMY GOOD MAN: Thank you very much for appearing on this post-inauguration show, Maria Hinojosa, award-winning journalist, author and professor, and Dr. Cornel West, professor of practice of public philosophy at Harvard University.
Democracy now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Libby Rainey, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Carla Wills, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud and Adriano Contreras. Our general manager is Julie Crosby. Special thanks to Becca Staley, Miriam Barnard, Paul Powell, Mike Di Filippo, Miguel Nogueira, Hugh Gran, Denis Moynihan, David Prude and Dennis McCormick. Remember that wearing a mask is an act of love. I am Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Be careful.