Amanda Gorman recently reflected on her decision to perform her poem “The Hill We Climb” just over a year ago at Joe Biden’s inauguration and the worries she grappled with in the days leading up to the event.
The Harvard graduate recalled the weight of knowing she’d recite “The Hill We Climb” on the same steps of the U.S. Capitol where the January 6th insurrection took place in a new personal essay for The New York Times published on Jan. 20.
“Just a few weeks before, domestic terrorists assaulted the U.S. Capitol, the very steps where I would recite,” Groman penned. “I didn’t know then that I’d become famous, but I did know at the inauguration I was going to become highly visible — which is a very dangerous thing to be in America, especially if you’re Black and outspoken and have no Secret Service.”
“It didn’t help that I was getting DMs from friends telling me not-so-jokingly to buy a bulletproof vest,” she added.
Speaking on the grave reality of realizing her safety would be at risk during the inauguration, Gorman shared: “My mom had us crouch in our living room so that she could practice shielding my body from bullets.”
Despite the worries that plagued her, Gorman said she went forward with reciting “The Hill We Climb” that historical day because she didn’t want to “spend the rest of my life wondering what this poem could have achieved.”
“On that Jan. 20, what I found waiting beyond my fear was every person who searched beyond their own fears to find space for hope in their lives,” the 23-year-old said, later advising, “So do not fear your fear. Own it. Free it.”