A Florida parent says ‘The Hill We Climb’ delivers ‘indirect hate messages.’ Really? | Column
Let’s talk about Amanda Gorman’s ‘The Hill We Climb’ and the Sisyphean task of keeping books available for Florida’s students to read, learn and discuss.
Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of President Joe Biden at the Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021.
Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of President Joe Biden at the Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021. [ ROB CARR | Getty Images North America ]
Published May 25|Updated May 25

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 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.