Gorman, 22, told the New York Times that she had been struggling to finish the inauguration poem, but after pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, Gorman was able to finish the poem that night.
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated,”she read from her poem.
Gorman’s words echoed Biden’s own message to Americans, where he called for America to “end this uncivil war.”
Referencing the Bible, Gorman further called for civility and unity over violence. She said,
“Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to her own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.”
Gorman said she looked to orators such as Frederick Douglass, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. for inspiration.
“The new dawn blooms as we free it,” she said in her poem.
“For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it – if only we are brave enough to be it.”
Gorman was raised in Los Angeles and studied sociology at Harvard. She was the first person to be named the National Youth Poet Laureate.
She described herself in the poem as a “skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother.”
In September her poetry collection, also titled The Hill We Climb, will be released. A second book, illustrated by Loren Long, called Change Sings, is also slated to be released for children.
According to the New York Times, Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, had seen a reading Gorman gave at the Library of Congress. In late December, Biden’s inaugural committee asked her to read at Biden’s inauguration.
“We have to confront these realities if we’re going to move forward, so that’s also an important touchstone of the poem,” she said.
“There is space for grief and horror and hope and unity, and I also hope that there is a breath for joy in the poem, because I do think we have a lot to celebrate at this inauguration.”