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Inaugural Poem by Amanda Gorman Banned After Single Complaint

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

A K-8 school in Florida has banned Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” for its elementary students. In March, the Miami Lakes school received a complaint from a parent of children at the school, Daily Salinas, about the poem as well as four other books.

In the complaint, which Gorman tweeted below, Salinas claims the poem means to “indoctrinate students” and “is not educational.” She also incorrectly lists Oprah Winfrey as the poem’s author, doesn’t specify the parts of the poem that are the source of her complaints, and doesn’t list any alternatives. Additionally, the other materials she challenged — The ABCs of Black History, Cuban Kids, Love to Langston, and Countries in the News Cuba — all had to do with Black or Latine culture.

In a letter responding to the banning, Gorman stated how she was “gutted,” and how there has been a 40% increase in book bans in 2022 since 2021, as reported by the ALA. She also pointed out how many of these bans are by or about queer and non-white people, people who historically haven’t had the same opportunities in having their voices heard.

“I wrote The Hill We Climb so that young people could see themselves in a historical moment,” Gorman said. “Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech,” she continued.

At the end of her statement, she mentioned the lawsuit filed against a Florida school district by PEN America and Penguin Random House, and implored for opposers of book bans to spread the word and donate to PEN America, which you can do here.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.