But one thing is certain,
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy,
and change our children's birthright
— Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman, youngest Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the United States and 826 National Board Member, is a part of collective and ongoing work to amplify what it means to be a writer, author, of color; what such a future can look like for students beginning their writing careers and how fundamental humanities are to our local communities and society. Like our nation, we felt seen. We watched and listened in awe as the vision we have for each of our students became visible through Gorman. We would like to share our reflections on this defining moment and what it means to us:
“Often, when I work with young writers and tell them all the ways that their work is going to be shared with the world through our programming, some of them will say ‘why me?’ and that response often shows me that young people don’t have enough outlets to have their true value affirmed and seeing Amanda Gorman on that stage reminded me of why our work is so important—we give the space for students to develop the confidence to get on that stage and let their words shake up the world.” - Natasha Mijares, Manager of Education at 826CHI.
“This is what manifests when we invest in young people, when there is support for artists and staff to build impactful mentoring relationships.” - Jennifer Steele, Executive Director at 826CHI.
“Watching Amanda Gorman’s performance, I’m proud of our organization. As a student, I never realized people were still writing, or that it was something I could do. With the inaugural program, it exemplifies how crucial writing and creating art is to our society. It’s important to our history and our future. And this made me think we’re cultivating a future by showing students that creative writing is important.” - Joshua Bohnsack, Publishing Programs Coordinator at 826CHI.
“I’m a dreamer and watching Amanda Gorman command the attention of a nation through poetry, filled me with so much joy. I am excited to join others like Gorman who also dream ceaselessly to deepen our connections to literature and access to authorship and artistic expression.” - NaBeela Washington, Communications Manager at 826CHI.
“There is power behind audiences listening to young peoples’ words.” - Charlie Stock, Development Manager at 826CHI.
“There is value in investing in youth voice and expression.” - Maya Tatum-Lattimore, Volunteer Manager at 826CHI
Our team reflection concluded with a staff member sharing, “Art and artists are invaluable parts of our entire culture and should be invested in.”
We at 826CHI are inspired even more by Gorman’s voice and invite our students, educators, authors, and greater Chicago community to join Gorman and us in making history.