This one is still a bit rough. It’s Episode 2, and we are still having audio issues and are really nervous. However, Amanda Gorman is AMAZING! You really need to hear about this awesome young woman. Here is what we covered in this episode:
- The remarkable story behind Bernie Sander’s Inauguration Mittens. 00:27
- The amazingly articulate and poetic Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate. 05:37
- The inspiring story of Christian Robinson, who overcame adversity through drawing to become a talented illustrator. 20:20
- Total Episode Run-Time 23:02
Our first story is about an unexpected star at President Joe Biden’s January 20, 2021 Inauguration. Senator Bernie Sanders came dressed for the cold weather in typical Vermont style, with a warm coat and mittens. Biden’s outfit, and in particular the mittens started showing up everywhere immediately after the inauguration. Hundreds of memes hit the internet and the mittens went viral. It turns out that the mittens were a gift from one of Sander’s constituents, Jen Ellis. Jen made the mittens from repurposed wool sweaters and plastic water bottles. Jen, a second grade teacher made the mittens for Bernie Sanders as part of a hobby. Following the inauguration, Jen received more than 16,000 requests for the mittens. Jen does not make the mittens anymore, but agreed to make three pair for fundraising purposes. One pair went to an LGBQT organization, another pair was sold to raise money for a dog rescue, and the third pair was sold to help fund Jen’s daughter’s college education. Little did Jen know that this little gift she made to Bernie Sanders would draw so much attention.
In our main story, Amy discusses Amanda Gorman. Amanda is the Youth Poet Laureate for the U.S. and at 22 was the youngest poet to read a poem at a presidential inauguration. Reading her poem, The Hill We Climb at President Biden’s 2021 Inauguration put this amazing young woman on the world stage. Her poem and her reading of it was highly praised by attendees as well as the media and television audience. The poem is beautiful and uplifting and Amanda’s reading of it was beautiful in itself, her movements and gestures flowing like the poem itself. Gorman was raised in Los Angeles by her mother, who is a teacher. Her mother instilled a love of reading and writing in Amanda, who eventually gravitated to poetry. Amanda has an auditory processing issue that makes her sensitive to sound, as well as a speech impediment that she overcomes with lots of practice. At the age of 19, she became the U.S. Youth Laureate Poet. A Harvard graduate, Gorman later read her poem at the opening of the 2021 Super Bowl, honoring “front line” workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Major influences for Amanda Gorman are Malala, the Pakistani human rights activist, Maya Angelou, and Michelle Obama. Amanda Gorman is a person to watch as she will do great things and continue to inspire us.
Here is a link to a video of Amanda Gorman’s 2021 Inaugural Poem The Hill We Climb.
Amy also introduces Christian Robinson, who is an illustrator and animator that has overcome significant adversity. Christian was raised by his grandma in a one-bedroom apartment which housed six people. Christian’s mother was in prison, so his grandmother was the closest thing he had to a mother. He started drawing from an early using it as an escape, saying he could draw his own worlds on paper. He graduated from the California University of Arts and is now an illustrator. Many of the books he illustrates are geared towards children and often feature Black main characters. He illustrated Harlem’s Little Blackbird, by Renee Watson and Little Penguins, by Cynthia Rylant. He has illustrated numerous other children’s books. Despite challenges in his childhood, Christian Robinson was able to turn his love and passion for drawing into a successful career as an illustrator.