On January 20, Amanda Gorman made history as the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, and many were moved by her powerful words. Tonight was no different as Gorman recited a poem before kickoff at Super Bowl LV in Tampa.
Before kickoff, Gorman, wearing a silver-studded, light blue snakeskin jacket, honored essential workers and honorary Super Bowl captains, Los Angeles teacher Trimaine Davis, Tampa Bay nurse Suzie Dorner, and Marine veteran James Martin.
Here is Gorman’s full poem:
“Today we honor our three captains
for their actions and impact in
a time of uncertainty and need.
They’ve taken the lead,
exceeding all expectations and limitations,
uplifting their communities and neighbors
as leaders, healers, and educators.
James has felt the wounds of warfare,
but this warrior still shares
his home with at-risk kids.
During Covid, he’s even lent a hand
live-streaming football for family and fans.
Trimaine is an educator who works nonstop,
providing his community with hotspots,
laptops, and tech workshops
so his students have all the tools
they need to succeed in life and in school.
Suzie is the ICU nurse manager at a Tampa Hospital.
Her chronicles prove that even in tragedy, hope is possible.
She lost her grandmothers to the pandemic,
and fights to save other lives in the ICU battle zone,
defining the frontline heroes risking their lives for our own.
Let us walk with these warriors,
charge on with these champions,
and carry forth the call of our captains!
We celebrate them by acting with courage and compassion,
by doing what is right and just.
for while we honor them today
it is they who every day honor us.”
Ahead of Gorman’s performance, CBS featured a Black Lives Matter tribute featuring Janelle Monáe a performance from Jennifer Hudson in honor of essential workers, a message from President and First Lady Biden, and a performance of “America the Beautiful” from HER.
After she spoke at the inauguration, Gorman received national recognition and praise. She has since spoken about the importance of that moment for her—and the imposter syndrome that can sometimes sneak in at engagements like this.
“Speaking in public as a Black girl is already daunting enough,” Gorman said in a TIME interview. “just coming onstage with my dark skin and my hair and my race—that in itself is inviting a type of people that have not often been welcomed or celebrated in the public sphere. Beyond that, as someone with a speech impediment, that impostor syndrome has always been exacerbated because there’s the concern, ‘Is the content of what I’m saying good enough?’ And then the additional fear, ‘Is the way I’m saying it good enough?'”
Gorman, whose fashion and presence had the attention of everyone watching on January 20, also spoke to the way society places judgment on Black women: “For Black women, there’s also the politics of respectability—despite our best attempts, we are criticized for never being put-together enough; but when we do, we’re too showy,” she continued. “We’re always walking this really tentative line of who we are and what the public sees us as. I’m handling it day by day.”
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