There were many captivating moments during the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20. One of them was Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman's incredible performance of her poem, "The Hill We Climb."
The 22-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate took to the stage on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol wearing a cheerful yellow coat, black leather skirt, white blouse and red headband from Prada and delivered an unforgettable five-minute poem. She had written it specially for the event, and had made many changes following the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol building.
She also had a special good luck charm from none other than Oprah Winfrey! Gayle King revealed the mogul gifted Amanda the earrings and caged bird ring Amanda wore to the historic day. The pieces are in reference to Maya Angelou's poem "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
In her speech, the poet laureate also referenced Maya, who was the inaugural poet at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration ceremony. (Oprah bought Maya a coat for the occasion and wanted to do the same for Amanda. Since she already had her coat picked out, Oprah gave her the jewelry.) Amanda is only the fourth poet to read at an inauguration, according to The New York Times. She's also the youngest ever to do so.
"The Hill We Climb" also references the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged America, and the world, and the insurrection on Capitol Hill. Amanda spoke about healing, democracy and being united.
In the beautiful piece, Amanda also made personal references, saying how she was "descended from slaves and raised by a single mother [who] can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one."
Celebrities were blown away by Amanda's poem and took to social media to commend the talented artist.
Regina King spoke of the hope Amanda gave her.
You @TheAmandaGorman give me hope. You are grace personified. You captured the history of this country and what democracy should mean beautifully. Thank you for showing up for LA. Thank you for showing up for this country. #LAnative
— Regina King (@ReginaKing) January 20, 2021
Dan Levy summed up the poet laureate's performance in one word.
— dan levy (@danjlevy) January 20, 2021
Lin-Manuel Miranda congratulated Amanda on Twitter and also confirmed he got the two Hamilton references in the piece, "The Hill We Climb."
You were perfect. Perfectly written, perfectly delivered. Every bit of it. Brava! -LMM
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) January 20, 2021
Michelle Obama was also moved by the 22-year-old.
With her strong and poignant words, @TheAmandaGorman reminds us of the power we each hold in upholding our democracy. Keep shining, Amanda! I can't wait to see what you do next. #BlackGirlMagic
Photo credit: Rob Carr pic.twitter.com/C2cf0U5iEj
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) January 20, 2021
Amanda later took to Twitter to thank Oprah for the special gift and share words of inspiration.
Thank you! I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in. While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird—a gift from @Oprah for the occasion , to symbolize Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here’s to the women who have climbed my hills before. https://t.co/5Tegd20sko
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) January 20, 2021