Because one parent complained, it will be harder for elementary students at a K-8 school in Miami-Dade County to be able to read “The Hill We Climb,” the stirring poem that Amanda Gorman delivered at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The poem was among five titles the parent claimed included references of critical race theory, “indirect hate messages,” gender ideology and indoctrination, according to records obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project. Without explanation, a school materials review committee said that four of the titles, including the poem, were deemed “better suited” or “more appropriate” for middle schoolers and will be available only in their section of the library. To read it, elementary school students must now request the book from a media specialist and prove they read at a middle-school level. Read the poem below and judge for yourself — or even better, read it to a young student. (You may also watch her recite it at bit.ly/3ca0dO3.) It may be just one parent and one school, but each time this happens, it adds to a troubling trend. Here is her poem.
When day comes, we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions of what “just is” isn’t always “justice”
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished.
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promised glade,
The hill we climb if only we dare it.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
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it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lakeland cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.