“The Hill We Climb” Inspires Black Authors Across Long Island

By: Jessica Coacci
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American poet and activist Amanda Gorman, read her poem “The Hill We Climb” on Jan. 20 for Inauguration Day. She is the youngest poet to ever read at the presidential swearing-in.  

Gorman’s fight for unification, in what she believes is currently a country of division, is a recurring theme across the U.S. and inspires writers across Long Island to advocate for injustice. 

Freeport native and Black author of the children books Sunne’s Gift and “Kwanzaa Nana Is Coming to Town”, Ama Yawson, believes the poem was a game changer in many ways. 

“It demonstrated the power of the spoken and written word for national healing during a time of startling division,” said Yawson. “She wore yellow which is associated with Yoruba Orisha, the spirit goddess of love. That being said, Amanda Gorman appeared as an ethereal presence calling out to us to love each other again.” 

📷: Courtesy of Ama Yawson

Along with unifying the country, Yawson notes that the change in history will inspire those who pursue poetry in their future. Only a certain amount of poets have a large influence in literature or even having their work in a store. If a poet’s work is sold on stands, they typically only sell a few hundred copies.

According to a study about poetry demographics by Poetry in America, female African Americans are more likely to be part of the poetry audience than those who don’t read poetry. Young adults 18-24, like Gorman, are more likely to be part of the current poetry audience.

“The fact that Amanda Gorman is so young is noteworthy because of the fact that many educators believe that young people are writing less and less due to technology,” said Yawson. “I truly believe that Amanda Gorman will inspire younger people to reflect, write and orate more, and that is a wonderful thing.” 

Black poet and actor from Hempstead, Otis Jermaine Becoat, sells his work in frames. Becoat’s poems reflect unity and activism for Black Americans’ history in the U.S.

“I would love to listen again to Amanda’s poem and be a part of that poetry history,” said Becoat. 

📷: Courtesy of Otis Jermaine Becoat

Becoat said that Gorman’s poem will inspire younger audiences simply because she told her story. 

“Telling the story doesn’t have an age, gender, religion or nationality,” said Becoat. “But telling the story inspires, promotes changes, motivates and uplifts.” 

Gorman is expected to inspire those to pursue poetry as a career in the future, although the demand for poets seems low now. 

“Amanda Gorman has enabled the art of storytelling and poetry oration to become more celebrated by the mainstream,” said Yawson. “It is fantastic and I believe that there will be more demand for poets, spoken word artists, and storytellers as a result.” 

Becoat believes Gorman has changed the face of Black history.

“She spoke truth, she spoke conviction, she spoke fearlessly” said Becoat. “She told the story that was hers, and it made history.” 

Due to her praise, Gorman will be reciting “The Hill We Climb” at the Super Bowl this Sunday and has even signed to a modeling agency at IMG Models, the same as famous supermodels Bella and GiGi Hadid. 

Jessica Coacci

Jessica Coacci

Jessica Coacci is a journalist at Stony Brook University. She is a Long Island Native and advocate for social justice, diversity and environmental policy. She plans to seek change locally and nationally through her informative reporting. Instagram @Jessicacoacci Twitter @JessicaCoacci__

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