Gorman Poem Banned By School – Poetry News 24th May

Today on My Poetic Side, we take a look at the story of the Inaugural poem that has been removed from a school following a parental complaint.

Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem Banned by Florida School

In January 2021, the young poet Amanda Gorman made the headlines, and stayed there for several days, following her powerful recitation of her poem “The Hill We Climb” which took place at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Now her poem has hit the headlines again but this time for a completely different reason. An elementary school in Miami-Dade, Florida, has removed the poem from circulation within the school as a result of a parental complaint. The parent has complained that the poem contains “indirect hate messages”.

Gorman was quick to post on Twitter denouncing the ban of the book. In her lengthy statement, she expressed her disappointment at the decision and stated that the censoring of books is something that is often done to those works that have been written by those individuals  “who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” most of these people are “queer and non-white.”

She also stated that she wrote the poem in order for young people to see themselves in what was a historical moment. Since she recited the poem, she has received countless videos and letters from the hundreds of children who her poem has inspired to write one of their own. And that the act of robbing children of the opportunity to find their own literary voice is, in fact, a violation of their right to free speech and free thought.

Maxwell Frost, the Republican representative for Florida, tweeted in support of the poet with a quote from the poem:

“But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”

It is understood that the book has been removed from the K-8 Bob Graham Education Centre which is in Miami Lakes. Only one parent has complained about the poem. They have said that it is not educational and that they believe it contains indirect hate messages. They have also made complaints about four other books: These are: Cuban Kids, The ABCs of Black History, Countries in the News: Cuba and Love to Langston, which is a biography in verse about the poet Langston Hughes. Whilst the complainant correctly named The Hill We Climb, they misidentified the writer of the poem as Oprah Winfrey.

The move comes as a result of the recent signing into law of a slate of new educational laws made last week by Ron DeSantis, the Florida Governor. These laws include one which makes it a requirement for any school in the state to pull any book which they hold which is challenged. This must be done within 5 days of the complaint being made, with a decision then being made by officials which will determine if the materials will be placed under a permanent ban.

DeSantis is widely expected to announce that he will be putting his name forward to run in the next presidential election in 2024.


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