Amanda Gorman, a poet who participated in the inaugural ceremonies back in 2021 for President Joe Biden, recently saw work of hers — the poem she read there — blocked from access in a southern Florida school after Gorman was targeted amid the volley of challenges to literary works that have been seen in school after school.
Miami-Dade Schools asserted on Twitter that an edition of Gorman’s work was “never banned or removed from one of our schools,” though they implied in the same statement that its reach in the school was, in fact, limited. “The books are restricted from lower grades within the school,” an organization called the Florida Freedom to Read Project said. “They are now stored on shelves available to grades 6-8 after a parent objection that demanded full removal. A compromise that sacrifices some student access is still censorship.” Indeed, it could easily be said the books, including Gorman’s work, were completely banned for younger students, and in general, a block on accessing the book with exceptions for older grades doesn’t change the core issue. Semantic games won’t solve this.
“I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment,” Gorman said in a prepared statement, referring to her inauguration poem, which was among challenged volumes. “Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.” In the same statement, she encouraged support of a lawsuit that was recently filed challenging restrictions on books implemented in some northern Florida schools, and she pushed for further awareness of the nature and impacts of what’s going on in schools.
Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed legislation that solidifies the opportunity to see books removed from access in schools just by lodging a complaint — before investigations are even complete, and adding even more chances for chaos, it seems like the plan also allows meetings to deal with objections to certain books to have public involvement.
Read Gorman’s statement below:
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) May 23, 2023
Image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Creative Commons