This is the reason Nancy Pelosi is so sensitive about political violence. It is the reason she does not trust these republican members of the house who refuse to go through the metal detectors on Capitol Hill. It is why the violent rhetoric used by republicans against her and other democrats upsets and angers her so much.

She knew these people that were assasinated. She is friends with Senator Diane Feinstein, who found Harvey Milk’s dead body, and unknowingly put her hand through one of his bullet holes trying to find a pulse. She is also friends with Congresswoman Jackie Speier who was shot 5 times in Jonestown where another San Francisco congressman, Leo Ryan, was shot and killed one week before Milk and Moscone.

Jackie Speier still has two bullets in her body from Jonestown. San Francisco city hall still has metal detectors at entrances and do bag searches because they have not forgotten that this happened, and city employees are not exempt from going through them because of Dan White. The entire city still has collective trauma from this two week period forty years ago, and it particularly effects their elected officials there.

History matters. Shared trauma matters. It should be taught and understood so it can be avoided from ever happening again.

When I was younger, I was always fascinated by how people living through major events throughout history were always so focused on their day to day lives. When I read diaries and primary sources, people would be talking about huge events with worldwide significance but they would just their lives. Like COME ON a world war is happening and your main area of focus is how the rationing sucks and how you want to go to dances and stuff after All This Is Over?

But I get it now.

Now I understand.

My favorite moment today was hearing Amanda Gorman read her original poem, “The Hill We Climb.” At just 23 years old, Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet ever, and with good reason. Her speech today stopped me cold in my tracks as I sat there and hung onto her every word as if it were my last breath. She represents the power of women, the power of Black people, the power of disabled people, the power of artists. Amanda Gorman today gave us so much today, and for those of us who are the intersection of all four (Black, disabled, women, and artists), she gave us more than we could have ever asked for. 

As she said in her poem, “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.”

I’ve dropped the transcript for her entire poem below and the link to the video is in the sources of this post at the bottom! Please read/listen to it!


Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet from Los Angeles, is following in the footsteps of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou as she takes the stage for President Biden's inauguration.

But she's also taking her cues from orators like Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. — people who knew a thing or two about calling for hope and unity in times of despair and division.

Gorman told NPR she dug into the works of those speakers (and Winston Churchill, too) to study up on ways "rhetoric has been used for good." Over the past few weeks she composed a poem that acknowledges the previous president's incitement of violence, but turns toward hope.

"The Hill We Climb" reads, in part:

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.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.

Gorman, like Biden, had a speech impediment as a child. (Biden had a stutter; Gorman had difficulty pronouncing certain sounds.) She told NPR's Steve Inskeep that her speech impediment was one reason she was drawn to poetry at a young age.

"Having an arena in which I could express my thoughts freely was just so liberating that I fell head over heels, you know, when I was barely a toddler," she said.

For Gorman, a former National Youth Poet Laureate, her struggle to speak provided a connection not only to the incoming president, but to previous inaugural poets, too.

"Maya Angelou was mute growing up as a child and she grew up to deliver the inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton," she says. "So I think there is a real history of orators who have had to struggle with a type of imposed voicelessness, you know, having that stage in the inauguration."

There have only been a handful of inaugural poets; Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy were the only presidents in the past who chose to have poems read at their inaugurations. You can read all the previous poems here.