Who is Amanda Gorman?

President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration was filled with historic and inclusive moments, though it was Biden’s inaugural poet, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, who captivated America with her poem that inspired hope and unity, entitled “The Hill We Climb.”

Just days before the inauguration, First Lady Jill Biden came upon Gorman’s poetry. According to the New York Times, the First Lady was watching Gorman’s poetry reading at the Library of Congress when she wondered if Gorman should read something for the inauguration. On Dec. 30, Gorman was told via Zoom that she had been chosen to present at the inauguration and that she would need to be on a flight to Washington, D.C.

“They did not want to put up guardrails for me at all,” Gorman said to the New York Times. “The theme for the inauguration in its entirety is ‘America United,’ so when I heard that was their vision, that made it very easy for me to say, great, that’s also what I wanted to write about in my poem… about a new chapter in our country.”

Gorman also said that she wanted to incorporate the “dark chapter in American history we are living through,” according to the New York Times.

As she wrote her poem, Gorman told the Los Angeles Times that she listened to music that put her in a “historic and epic mind-set,” such as the soundtracks of Netflix’s “The Crown,” “Lincoln” and the Broadway musical, “Hamilton. She even gave a nod to the songs “One Last Time” and “History Has Its Eyes on You” from the musical in her poem.

Despite this, Gorman struggled to write her poem as the date of the inauguration neared, according to her interview with the New York Times. It was not until the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection that she was able to complete “The Hill We Climb.”

“We have to confront these realities if we’re going to move forward, so that’s also an important touchstone of the poem,” Gorman told the New York Times about including the insurrection in her poem. “There is space for grief and horror and hope and unity, and I also hope that there is a breath for joy in the poem because I do think we have a lot to celebrate at this inauguration.”

Gorman said in her poem, “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.”

The poet laureate told the New York Times that she plans on running for president in 2036. According to the New York Times, Vice President Kamala Harris inspired her to run for office.

“There’s no denying that a victory for her is a victory for all of us who would like to see ourselves represented as women of color in office,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “It makes it more imaginable. Once little girls can see it, little girls can be it. Because they can be anything that they want, but that representation to make the dream exist in the first place is huge – even for me.”

Gorman’s work can be found and purchased on her website.