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Amanda Gorman’s poetry has graced presidential inaugurations and the United Nations General Assembly — but access is now restricted at a Miami-Dade County school, the latest casualty in the library’s book battle.
Complaint filed against Gorman’s book The hill we climb. — named after the poem he famously recited at President Biden’s 2021 inauguration — alleges that the work is “non-educational,” contains implicit hate speech and should not be used in schools. It should be.
After a review, the Bob Graham Education Center, a K-8 school in Miami Lakes, decided to keep the book — but only if it was placed in a designated area for middle school students.
“We’re really upset about it,” Daniella Pierre, president of the NAACP’s Miami-Dade branch, told NPR on Wednesday, noting that one person’s complaint prompted the change.
“The form, which is provided and shared with us, is not completely filled out or even expressed as a complete thought,” Pierre said. “It is our collective goal to work to amend school board policy and ensure that the removal of our history and heritage takes multiple forms.”
What does the complaint say?
The complaint came from Miami Lakes resident Daley Salinas, who has two children with Bob Graham. It alleged that Gorman’s book would confuse and mislead children. NPR reviewed the complaint and other materials after they were obtained through a records request from the school district. Florida Freedom to Read Project.
Salinas did not fill out the forms completely. And to one question, asking if he had seen professional reviews of the material, he replied, “I don’t need to.”
Screenshot by NPR
This is not mentioned in Gorman’s complaint about the poem, falsely claiming that the author or publisher was Oprah Winfrey – who wrote the book’s foreword. During the school’s review, an eight-member committee clarified the point, noting Gorman’s status as the first National Young Poet Laureate in history and the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration. The committee said her book had educational value — but added that “the words used in the poem are valuable to middle school students.”
Salinas also filed complaints about four other books: The ABCs of Black History; Cuban children; Countries in News Cuba; And Love Langston.
The process moved quickly: On March 29, just a week after Salinas filed her complaints, the school committee decided that most of the books on her list should not be seen by younger students. Salinas requested that the material be removed “from the total environment.”
Reagan Miller of the Florida Freedom to Read Project told NPR that the school action is “very typical of Florida right now,” noting that many school districts are extremely cautious in handling complaints about the books.
Miller added, “I’m sure a lot of people are afraid they’re going to be investigated” or punished, citing the current political climate in Florida and the 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 (book or poem) has been banned or removed.” The school determined that Gorman’s poem was more appropriate for older students, which the district said is still available in the middle school section of the media center.
Gorman is pushing back on this position, saying: 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 he was “saddened” that elementary schools no longer had access to his poem. He wrote it, he added, “so that all young people could see themselves in a historic moment.”
Screenshot via Google Maps/NPR
“And let’s be clear: most banned works are by authors who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” Gorman said. “Most of these censored acts are by queer and non-white voices.”
As part of its decision, the school committee made this decision. The ABCs of Black History Although intended for readers ages 5 and up, it should also be visited in a middle school setting.
The author of the book, Rio Cortez, described“It further 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 U.S. Capitol building, the poem was hailed as an inspiring message for a country that has long labored to create a more perfect union.
The complaint targeting Gorman’s book says it contains “indirect hateful messages,” referring to pages 12 and 13. In an edition that includes Winfrey’s foreword, pages 12 and 13 read:
We have braved the belly of the beast.
We have learned that silence is not always peace.
and principles and concepts of “just what is”.
It is not always fair.
And yet the morning is upon us before we know it.
Somehow, we do it.
Somehow, we have weathered and witnessed
A nation that is not broken but just