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Amanda Gorman’s poem has graced presidential inaugurations and the United Nations General Assembly—but its use is now banned at a Miami-Dade County school, the latest casualty in the battle of the library books.
Complaint filed against Gorman’s book the hill we climb – named for the famous poem at President Biden’s 2021 swearing-in – alleges the work “is not educational”, contains indirect hate speech and should not be in schools.
After a review, the Bob Graham Education Center, a K-8 school in Miami Lakes, decided to retain the book — but only if it is placed in an area reserved for middle school students.
“We’re really upset by this,” Daniella Pierre, president of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP, told NPR on Wednesday, noting that one man’s complaint prompted the change.
“Based on what has been provided and shared with us, the form does not appear to be fully filled out or express complete views,” Pierre said. “It is our collective goal to work to amend school board policy and effect changes to ensure that there is more than one form of removal for our history and heritage.”
What does the complaint say?
The complaint came from Daley Salinas, a Miami Lakes resident who has two children with Bob Graham. It alleges that Gorman’s book will create confusion and indoctrinate children. NPR conducted the review after receiving the complaint and other materials from the Florida Freedom to Read Project through a records request to the school district.
Salinas did not completely fill out the forms. And to a question asking whether he had seen a professional review of the material, he replied, “I don’t need to.”
screenshot by NPR
She is not mentioned in the complaint about Gorman’s poem, falsely claiming that the author or publisher was Oprah Winfrey—who wrote the foreword to the book. During a review of the school, an eight-person committee clarified that point, cementing Gorman’s place in history as the first National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration. The committee said that her book had educational value – but added that “the vocabulary used in the poem was determined to be of value to middle school students.”
Salinas also filed a complaint regarding four other books: the abcs of black history, cuban children, Countries in News Cuba, And langston love,
The process moved quickly: on March 29, just a week after Salinas filed her complaint, the school committee decided that most of the books on her list should not be seen by the young students. Salinas requested that the material be removed “from the total environment”.
The school’s action is “very specific to Florida right now,” Raegan Miller of the Florida Freedom to Read Project told NPR, noting that many school districts are extremely cautious in their handling of complaints about the books.
“I’m sure many are fearful that they will be investigated” or punished, Miller said, citing the current political climate in Florida and a lack of clear legal guidance.
What do Gorman and others say?
Miami-Dade County Public Schools told NPR that in response to the complaint, “no literature (books or poetry) has been banned or removed.” The school determined that Gorman’s poem was better suited for older students, the district said, adding that it is still available in the middle school section of the media center.
going back to that position stating Gorman via twitter“A school book ban is any action taken against a book that restricts or reduces access to a book.”
In another message, Gorman said she was “disappointed” that elementary school students no longer had access to her poetry. He wrote it, he added, “so that all young people could see themselves in a historic moment.”
Screenshot by Google Maps / NPR
Gorman added, “And let’s be clear: Most of the forbidden works are by authors who have struggled on the bookshelf for generations.” “Most of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices.”
As part of its decision, the school committee ruled the abcs of black history Despite being intended for readers ages 5 and up, the middle school location should be visited as well.
Rio Cortez, author of the book where did it go“It only confirms to me that there is revolutionary power in understanding history.”
What does Gorman’s poem say?
When Gorman recited “The Hill We Climb” at the US Capitol building, the poem was hailed as an inspirational message to a country that has long worked to create a more perfect union.
The complaint targeting Gorman’s book states that it contains “indirectly hateful messages”, citing pages 12 and 13. In a version that includes Winfrey’s foreword, pages 12 and 13 read:
We have caressed the belly of the beast.
We have learned that silence is not always peace,
and norms and notions of what “just is”
There is not always justice.
And yet the dawn is upon us before we know it.
Somehow, we do.
Somehow, we weathered and saw
A country that is not broken, but simply