Amanda Gorman ‘Gutted’ by Ban of Inauguration Poetry Book From Florida School

The parent who complained misidentified the author as Oprah Winfrey

Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021. (Getty)

A parent in Florida has requested to have a poetry book by Amanda Gorman banned, and in their complaint they misidentified the poet as Oprah Winfrey. 

“I’m gutted. Because of one parent’s complaint, my inaugural poem, ‘The Hill We Climb,’ has been banned from an elementary school in Miami-Dade County, Florida,” Gorman wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. 

The request to ban “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country,” which includes Gorman’s now-famous spoken word “The Hill We Climb” that she recited at the 2021 inauguration of Joe Biden was made in March, per a complaint Gorman also posted on Twitter. 

In the ban request the complainant claimed “The Hill We Climb” contains content that is “not educational,” and that it is “indirectly hate messages.” They also stated that the subject matter is “not for schools” and it can “cause confusion” and “indoctrinates students.” On the document, the complainant stated that Oprah Winfrey was the “author/publisher” of the book though the poem was written by Gorman. 

“Book bans aren’t new. But they have been on the rise—according to the ALA, 40% more books were challenged in 2022 compared to 2021,” Gorman continued. “What’s more, often all it takes to remove these works from our libraries and schools is single objection. And let’s be clear: most of the forbidden works are by authors who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves. The majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices.”

This incident happened amid Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent moves to block diversity and inclusion-related programs and teachings from schools. On May 15, he signed a bill into law banning the state’s public colleges and universities from funding DEI initiatives. He also created legislation that mandates the education of Asian American and Pacific Islander history in public schools. 

And in addition to Gorman’s book, three other race-related titles were also banned, including “Countries in the News: Cuba,” “Love to Langston” and “The ABCs of Black History.”

Gorman also attached a fundraiser to support Pen America, a nonprofit organization that works to defend and celebrate free expression. The fund has raised close to $16,000 since being posted. 

“Together, this is a hill we won’t just climb, but a hill we will conquer,” Gorman said.