Hello Griffins! Welcome back to the 255! We send our warmest regards to all students, faculty and staff, and hope for safe travels to all who are preparing for the start of the new semester. Needless to say a lot has gone down since our last update. Besides the general chaos of the holiday season, we witnessed an attack on U.S. democracy, a historic second impeachment of a U.S. President, and most recently, a transfer of political power as the Biden Administration assumes its place in the seat of government. The Inauguration Ceremony delivered many breathtaking moments, including performances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, plus more than a few phenomenal fashion statements (jewel tones! mittens!) It also featured multiple historic triumphs for our country. We wanted to share our most inspiring moments, specifically addressing the swearing in of Kamala Harris and the stunning poetic performance of Amanda Gorman.
On January 20th, 2021 Kamala Harris shattered the glass ceiling as she became the first African American and Asian American Woman to be the Vice President of the United States. The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Vice President Harris was born and raised in California. After attending the HBCU Howard University, Harris went on to law school at the University of California and started her legal career soon after her graduation. Since then, Vice President Harris served as the Attorney General of California from 2011-2017 and then as a Senator of California from 2017-2021. Both of these accomplishments made Harris the first African American Woman to hold either of these positions. Regardless of your political opinion, Vice President Harris has made history by demonstrating the ability of women of color to rise to one of the most powerful positions in the country. Harris will be remembered and judged as the first, but her accomplishment reveals a promising future for the nation as we inch closer to a more representative government that is by the people, and reflects the truth of our citizens.
Amanda Gorman left the nation inspired and in awe after her recitation of “The Hill We Climb.” Gorman also shattered a glass ceiling, as she is now the youngest poet to perform at an Inauguration Ceremony. Gorman attended Harvard University and is nationally recognized as a poet and activist. In 2017 Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. Much of her work focuses on feminism, race, oppression, and the African diaspora. Some of her previous work can be found in her published book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough. Using her platform in front of the nation yesterday, Gorman reminded the country of the struggles it continues to face with poise and eloquence. Her speech was markedly different than traditional patriotic messages delivered in past inaugurations. Gorman’s poem paints the United States as a country who is bruised by the mistakes of its past, but delivers hope despite all we’ve been through by adding that “The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Gorman beautifully demonstrated the power of words to all girls throughout the nation, reminding us all of why poetry and art and so vital to our national soul.
Watch out, everyone, there is glass on the floor! Vice President Harris and Amanda Gorman have shattered boundaries and set new precedents. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these two women provided our most inspiring moments of the Inauguration Ceremony. Women of color all around this country are the reason why the Biden Administration won the election. The work of black women in political and community organizing delivered Biden’s victory in key states like Pennsylvania, Nevada and especially Georgia. But let this not be a single moment in U.S. history, but rather the beginning of a new era where the faces we see in DC reflect the truth of our communities across the country. Let this moment be a step forward for the United States as we start to resemble the diverse “melting pot” we have also claimed to be. We hope you enjoyed this entry on the 255. Once again, we would like to wish our students the best as winter break comes to an end. And as always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and take a moment to absorb the history that is being made in front of our very eyes.