Amanda Gorman and “The Hill We Climb”

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Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate in the United States, was a highlight at the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. At the age of 22, she became the youngest inaugural poet. Reading her beautiful poem entitled “The Hill We Climb”, Gorman has also become a viral sensation.

It was a special moment for Gorman and Biden because both have a speech impediment. Indeed, as Gorman told The New York Times, “The writing process is its own excruciating form, but as someone with a speech impediment, speaking in front of millions of people presents its own type of terror.”

In another interview, Amanda Gorman talked about her preparation for the event. She read the works of orators throughout history such as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Winston Churchill. She said that she wanted to study the ways in which “rhetoric has been used for good.” It’s a terrific attitude. More people need to think of rhetoric as something positive.

You can read more about Gorman and her writing process here and here. But if you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to listen to Amanda Gorman reciting “The Hill We Climb”. Following the video is the text of the poem.

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.

We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried.

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade but in all of the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to Glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare. It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy, and this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption. We feared in its inception, we did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So while once we asked ‘How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?’ now we assert: How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce, and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.

Our blunders become their burdens, but one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left, with every breath of my bronze, pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise through the golden hills of the West. We will rise from the windswept Northeast, where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.

In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country, our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it, for there was always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.

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3 Replies to “Amanda Gorman and “The Hill We Climb””

  1. As the Special Projects Coordinator of the Clearwater Neighborhood Family Center; we would like to engage Amanda Gorman to speak to our youth, at our event.

    Our Rising Above Youth Conference will be held July 21,22, and 23 – 2021!

    We would like to engage you as our Keynote Speaker or, if you can provide a shout out for 30 seconds.

    We would like to speak with you further on this matter; to see how we can engage you, to stimulate our youth, to Rise Above the negative influences in life!

    Thank you for your time!

    Sincerely,

    Michele Edwards
    Special Projects Coordinator
    Clearwater Neighborhood Family Center
    900 N. Martin Luther King Avenue
    Clearwater, Fl 33755
    727-458-9662
    micheleeedwards81@gmail.com

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

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TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

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CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

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Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International