Public Schools

A poem from President Biden’s inauguration has been banned in – you guessed it – Florida

  Rob Boston

During President Joe Biden’s inauguration, many Americans undoubtedly choked up over a poem titled “The Hill We Climb,” written and recited by Amanda Gorman. The poem struck a nerve, and overnight, the young poet became a national figure who was soon giving readings to packed audiences.

But for one parent in Florida, Gorman’s thought-provoking piece is really hate speech. This parent has demanded that it be removed from the Bob Graham Educational Center in Miami Lakes, which serves students from kindergarten through grade eight. Thanks to a misguided law in that state, officials had to pull the poem while it undergoes a review.

‘Inappropriate’ books assailed

As we have noted previously on this blog, the law in question, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in 2022, mandates that a book be placed on review if even one person complains that it’s “inappropriate.” Christian Nationalists have been using it to attack books that deal with LGBTQ+ themes. But books that explore the difficult history of race in America have also been targeted.

In the case of “The Hill We Climb,” the parent asserted that the poem, which this individual inaccurately attributed to Oprah Winfrey, “is not educational and have (sic) indirectly hate messages.” The complaint added that the poem would “cause confusion and indoctrinate students.”

The parent also complained about some other titles, including one called The ABCs of Black History, which Publisher’s Weekly hailed as a “richly accessible resource for anyone seeking to celebrate Black visionaries.”

Will political leaders speak out?

Daniella Levine Cava, mayor of Miami-Dade County, has invited Gorman, who is the nation’s youth poet laureate, to visit the area and do a reading. In a tweet, Levine Cava told Gorman, “Your poem inspired our youth to become active participants in their government and to help shape the future. We want you to come to Miami-Dade to do a reading of your poem. If you’re in, we will coordinate.”

That’s a nice gesture, but you know what would be better? If Levine Cava and other public officials who understand how dangerous, misguided and, frankly, un-American this book-banning law is got a lot more vocal and started demanding that the state overturn it.

Photo: Amanda Gorman recites “The Hill We Climb” during President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

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