The spoken word has been an integral part of African-American history and culture. It helps the community to remember its past and express hopes for tomorrow. A new generation continues the tradition. Few have mastered the art as well as 19-year-old Amanda Gorman.
Gorman was named the first national youth poet laureate in April, Poets & Writers reported. The award recognizes a teen poet who demonstrate literary talent and community engagement.
The Harvard University sophomore from Los Angeles is the founder and CEO of One Pen One Page, a nonprofit organization that seeks to change the world through student storytellers. Poets & Writers said Gorman’s writing focuses on the area where feminism, race, youth and community intersect.
She also cares passionately about the arts. One of her current campaigns seeks to prevent budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts.
The writer told the New York Times that she feels “like a unicorn” because so few people are aware of the youth laureate award. However, she intends to use her position to make a difference in the world.
“I did a lot of sitting back and thinking about what I wanted for myself and what I wanted for my country: more unity, more support for the arts and more opportunities for young writers from marginalized groups,” she told the newspaper.
She comes to the post with some experience addressing many of the world’s challenges. The Times noted that Gorman was a youth delegate for the United Nations in 2013. “It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could accomplish,” she said.