Meet Poet Amanda Gorman: Everything to Know About the Young Inauguration Speaker
By Desiree Murphy
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Amanda Gorman is a name we're all going to remember after Inauguration Day.
During the swearing-in ceremony for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, the inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate recited her original poem, "The Hill We Climb," and the internet couldn't get enough. "I'm old enough to remember Robert Frost reading a poem at JFK's inauguration. He was good, but Amanda Gorman today was extraordinary," Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, raved, with Michelle Obama adding, "With her strong and poignant words, [Gorman] reminds us of the power we each hold in upholding our democracy. Keep shining, Amanda! I can't wait to see what you do next. 💕 #BlackGirlMagic."
Now, ET's breaking down everything you need to know about the young superstar.
1. At just 22 years old, she's already made history.
Gorman made history on Wednesday by becoming the youngest person ever to write and recite a poem during an inauguration. The Los Angeles native described her background in the powerful composition as a "skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother [who] can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one."
2. Her poem came together last minute.
Gorman told The New York Times that she finished penning it just after supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. "I'm not going to in any way gloss over what we've seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years. But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal," she said. "It's doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with."
3. Oprah Winfrey is one of her fans.
After Gorman delivered her poem, Winfrey took to Twitter, writing, "I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering — and so am I."
"I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in," Gorman replied. "While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird—a gift from @Oprah for the occasion, to symbolize Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here's to the women who have climbed my hills before."
Thank you! I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in. While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird—a gift from @Oprah for the occasion , to symbolize Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here’s to the women who have climbed my hills before. https://t.co/5Tegd20sko
Gorman styled the jewelry from Winfrey with a bright yellow coat by Prada. "Oprah got her the earrings that she's wearing and, on her hand, she has a ring that's shaped like a caged bird as a tribute to Maya [Angelou]," Gayle King first revealed on CBS News. When Angelou served as Bill Clinton's inaugural poet in 1993, Winfrey also gifted her with something to wear: a Chanel coat and gloves.
4. She's a published author.
Gorman's first children's book, Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, is available for pre-order and will be released in September. "I felt strongly that the book should come out in 2021, when children would be facing the results of the 2020 election and whatever those would be, I wanted them to know they were the leaders of the future," she explained in a post shared to Instagram earlier this week. "I had no idea that around the same time I myself would be named the youngest inaugural poet at that time! So I am too learning and living the lesson of Change Sings."
5. Her passion for writing started at an early age.
According to CBS Los Angeles, Gorman turned to writing in an attempt to cope with a speech impediment. She joined WriteGirl in 2014, and credits the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization for her success over the years. "WriteGirl has been pivotal in my life," Gorman told the outlet. "It's been thanks to their support that I've been able to chase my dreams as a writer."
6. She intends to run for president in 2036.
Gorman, who majored in sociology at Harvard University, told the Los Angeles Times that she plans to run for president as soon as she's old enough to do so, following Harris' inspirational journey to becoming America's first-ever female vice president.
"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," Gorman explained. "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."
7. She has yet to obtain her driver's license.
Despite all of Gorman's impressive accomplishments, she has yet to go take a driving test at the California DMV. She told the L.A. Times that her twin sister will likely "drag me to Disneyland once it’s safe, so maybe she can just drive me around."