School Library Scraps Inaugural Poem After Parent Complaint

Amanda Gorman says she's 'gutted' that 'The Hill We Climb' was taken out of Fla. elementary library
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 10:00 AM CDT
Inauguration Poet Reacts to Florida School's Move on Poem
Poet Amanda Gorman reads her commissioned poem "The Hill We Climb" during President Joe Biden's inauguration at the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2021.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool, File)

The young poet who performed her spoken-word piece at President Biden's 2021 inauguration is now at the center of the latest book-banning controversy. Citing documents from the Florida Freedom to Read Project, Politico reports that Amanda Gorman's poem "The Hill We Climb" has been removed from the library at Bob Graham Education Center, a K-8 school in Miami Lakes, Florida, after a lone parent challenged it in March. Incorrectly attributing the poem to Oprah Winfrey instead of Gorman, the complainant noted in her filing that the poem is "not educational and have [sic] indirectly hate messages." She added that the poem is "not for schools," and that it "[causes] confusion and [indoctrinates]" students.

The same parent, identified by the Miami Herald as Daily Salinas, filed complaints about four other books as well: Love to Langston, a book by Tony Medina on poet Langston Hughes; The ABCs of History, by Rio Cortez; Countries in the News: Cuba, by Kieran Walsh; and Cuban Kids, by George Ancona. Salinas cited "indoctrination" and "CRT" as some of the reasons for her complaints on the other books. A Twitter account that says it exposes "the far-right of Miami and South FL" ties Salinas to right-wing groups like Moms 4 Liberty and the Proud Boys. Gorman spoke out publicly Tuesday after hearing about what had happened with her poem, noting she was "gutted." "So they ban my book from young readers, confuse me with @oprah, fail to specify what parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews, and offer no alternatives," she tweeted.

Gorman also noted in a statement that she'd written her famous poem "so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment" (read the poem in full here). In a late Tuesday statement, Miami-Dade County Public Schools said Gorman's poem "was never banned or removed from one of our schools." It noted that the book "is available in the media center" for middle schoolers only, per CNN. Both the American Library Association and PEN America get into the definition of book bans, and how restriction of access falls into that definition. Gorman also compared the commotion over her poem to another issue in America—one that comes with a death toll. "One parent could get my poetry banned from classrooms. And yet one country can't ban assault rifles from massacring them," she wrote. (More Amanda Gorman stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.