Before she mesmerized the nation during the presidential inauguration on Wednesday, poet Amanda Gorman delivered another captivating performance during the summer, sending words of encouragement to protesters of racial injustice.
In the poem "Fury and Faith" uploaded to YouTube in August, Gorman encouraged the protesters to keep going despite constant criticism from those who oppose the demonstrations. The poem, performed for the Bach Virtuosi Festival, was said to be a response to the "hopelessness of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protest," according to the video's description.
"You will be told that this is not a problem, not your problem," the Los Angeles poet said in her poem. "You will be told that now is not the time for change to begin, told that we cannot win. But the point of protest isn't winning. It's holding fast to the promise of freedom even when fast victory is not promised."
"We cannot stand up to police if we cannot cease policing our own imagination, convincing our communities that this won't work, before the work has even begun – that this can wait when we've already waited out a thousand sons," the 22-year-old said.
While many still deny the existence of white supremacy, Gorman reminded the audience about the reality of the glaring problem and emphasized the need to vehemently denounce bigotry.
"By now we understand that white supremacy and the despair it demands are as destructive as any disease," she said. "So when you're told that your rage is reactionary, remember that rage is our right. It teaches us it is time to fight in the face of injustice. Not only is anger natural, but necessary. Because it helps carry us to our destination. Our goal has never been revenge, just restoration. Not dominance, just dignity. Not fear, just freedom, just justice."
The writer reminded the protesters to never lose faith despite the decades-long devastation caused by racism, which was especially gruesome in 2020 with the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and dozens more.
"Whether we prevail is determined not by all the challenges that are present, but by all the change that is possible," the former National Youth Poet Laureate said. "And though we be unstoppable, if we ever feel like we might fail, if we be fatigued and frail when our fire can no longer be fueled by fury, we will be fortified by this faith found in the vow, the anthem 'all Black lives matter."
The poem was inclusive of several marginalized groups who also desperately need to have their voices both heard and respected.
"We must stand up for all of us, in our aims united through protest and pain," she said. "Amplifying women, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. Because none of us are free until all of us break our chains. We owe it to the fallen to fight, but we owe it to ourselves to never stay kneeling when the day calls us to stand together."
Like the hundreds of activists who came before her, the esteemed writer seemingly sought to help Americans visualize a better future.
"We envision a land that is liberated, not lawless," she said. "We create a future that is free, not flawless over and over again and again. We will stride up every mountainside magnanimous and modest. We will be protected and served by a force that is honored and honest. This is more than protest. It's a promise."
Gorman has been receiving widespread acclaim since her Wednesday performance at the inauguration. As Blavity previously reported, Gorman received a job offer at Morgan State University after her moving performance at the inauguration.
"Ms. Gorman, I need you as our Poet-in-Residence at the National Treasure, at Morgan State University. Outstanding!!!!! Consider this a job offer!" David Wilson, president of the Baltimore-based university, said in a tweet.
— David Wilson (@morganpres) January 20, 2021
Two of Gorman's books reached the top of Amazon's book charts after Wednesday's performance. The writer expressed joy on Twitter after seeing the success of her books, The Hill We Climb: Poems and Change Sings: A Children's Anthem.
I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY! Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: "For words alone are certain good: Sing, then"
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) January 20, 2021
The books will be released on September 21, but many already pre-ordered their copies. Gorman, who became the youngest person to ever deliver a poem at a U.S. inauguration, spoke about the country's trials and tribulations.
"Somehow we've weathered and witnessed, a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished. We the successors of a country and a time, Where a skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother, can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one," she said.