In a recent development, a renowned poem by a Black writer, Amanda Gorman, read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, has been banned for young students at the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami. A group fighting against such restrictions has raised concerns about this decision, which reflects a broader trend of cultural and social clashes in Florida under the governance of Governor Ron DeSantis, an arch-conservative and potential presidential candidate for the 2024 election.
Over the past few months, Florida has become a battleground for debates surrounding cultural and social issues, leading to the removal of numerous books from school library shelves. These removals have been justified by conservative parents and school boards who consider the books inappropriate for children. Recently, the Bob Graham Education Center received a complaint from a mother of two students regarding Amanda Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” prompting the school to take action.
According to documents obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project and shared with AFP, the mother requested the removal of five works from the Bob Graham library, claiming that they served to indoctrinate children. Among these works was “The Hill We Climb,” which gained significant attention when Gorman, then 22 years old, delivered it at Biden’s inauguration in January 2021. The poem itself called for unity and hope in a politically polarized America, and Gorman instantly became a star after her powerful recitation on the steps of the US Capitol.
As a result of the complaint, “The Hill We Climb” has been removed from the library shelves accessible to first graders and placed in a section designated for children over the age of 11. Unfortunately, the school material review committee did not provide explicit reasons for this decision, leaving many wondering about the motivation behind it.
Amanda Gorman, the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate, expressed her devastation over the poem’s removal. She initially wrote “The Hill We Climb” with the intention of enabling young people to see themselves reflected in a significant historical moment. For her, the act of denying children the chance to find their voices through literature represents a violation of their fundamental rights to free thought and free speech.
It is disheartening when books or poems that seek to inspire and encourage young minds are restricted from reaching their intended audience. The removal of “The Hill We Climb” from the Bob Graham library is not an isolated incident, but rather part of a larger pattern of controversies arising from the objections of conservative individuals and groups within Florida.
Ultimately, decisions regarding book selection and accessibility are made at the local level, and each school or district may have its own guidelines and policies. While it is unfortunate that certain books face restrictions or challenges, it is crucial to acknowledge the broader conversations and debates surrounding education, values, and cultural sensitivities that often take place within communities.
In conclusion, the banning of Amanda Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami represents another instance of a book being restricted for young students. This decision, along with the broader trend in Florida, highlights the ongoing tensions over cultural and social issues. Amanda Gorman’s disappointment at the removal of her poem emphasizes the importance of allowing children to engage with literature freely and develop their own voices. As these discussions continue, it is vital to find a balance that respects diverse perspectives while ensuring access to a wide range of literary works for students.