Words matter. Words matter because they resonate among all generations and can build bridges of kindness and compassion. Take a bow, Amanda Gorman.
Gorman, 22, became a national treasure in the span of minutes while delivering a powerful inauguration poem at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
She did her homework along the way, shortly after finding out in December that she would be participating in Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. She told CNN that she did a “deep literature dive” that included Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, focused on their ability to speak to a nation divided.
Gorman took those words to heart and delivered a poignant and powerful message that inspired international acclaim.
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
And so it went, each word connecting the dots to a message of unity.
“I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. “But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.”
Words didn’t always come so easily for Gorman, who started writing poems when she was a child, but a speech impediment kept her terrified of public speaking. She said she was able to overcome her fears by leaning on the influences of former President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.
The Internet blew up Wednesday, thanks to her.
“Amanda Gorman!” Marc Middleton, Founder and CEO of Growing Bolder, wrote on Facebook. “To the list of inaugural poets including Robert Frost and Maya Angelou, add the name of 22-year-old Amanda Gordon. Gordon became the youngest inaugural poet in American history when she recited her work, “The Hill We Climb.” She killed it. Simply amazing.”
By Thursday morning, her Twitter account (@TheAmandaGorman) had spiked to 1.2 million followers and was rising exponentially by the hour.
It’s never too early to start Growing Bolder.