Today’s Current Event: Arts and the Power of Language in Community
Amanda Gorman is the first Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S. She read her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration ceremony.
Find the text of her poem online and read and reflect on the themes of activism and positivity. What words and language play do you notice? What does the poem make you wonder? What do the last words mean to you or challenge you to do differently?
"When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. 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." - Amand Gorman
Amanda is a poet and an activist who is especially interested in girls’ education and empowerment. She wrote a soon-to-be-published picture book Change Sings. Learn more about Amanda at her website: theamandagorman.com
Art is a strong way to communicate information and emotions. The inauguration included several singers. Look up the YouTube songs and discuss what they sang and the messages and emotions communicated.
- Why do we have a poet laureate?
- What role does music play at an event like an inauguration?
- What other art forms carry meaning for us as a community or nation?
- What forms of art are most meaningful to you?
- How can art help you communicate what you believe is important for making a better world?
Our system of government by the people for the people has a powerful and beautiful history, and the events around Inaugeration Day provide an ungoing exploration of democracy and the role of citizens. The teachable moments are many, including how government works and our civic role in democracy.
Government By the People In this lesson, learners read primary documents that illustrate the motivations of the founding fathers of the United States. These documents show the dedication to principles (government by the people, freedom, civil rights, shared power, etc.) that are upheld by groups and people who (in US history) have worked to gain civil rights for a population that was discriminated against or underserved.
Philanthropy through Social Activism Video and Discussion Guide - Advocacy is a tool for anyone to use their voice for change. Insurrection and violence are not advocacy and not the tactics of a social movement.
What Is Advocacy? Video and Discussion Guide - Advocacy involves changing hearts and minds in support of an issue. We have a right to peaceful protest. The assault on the Capitol represented taking privilege by force and is unlike protests that seek justice.
It's OK to have a different opinion than others. The key is to master effective conversation; here are some tips:
- Show respect for others.
- Be kind (civil) even if you disagree.
- Listen to understand before speaking to be understood.
- Ask questions and be open to learning before saying, "You're wrong."
- Conflict is hard. Be brave and know that you'll get through it.
- Look for the common ground. What can we agree on? Common ground examples: we all want peace, comfort, and friends.
Learning to Give published a resource to guide youth in debate, conflict, and civility. See the Civility and Civil Conversations guide below, with videos created by youth leaders of young people of all ages.
In addition, Find tips and resources about having Difficult Conversations by establishing a safe environment, promoting respectful dialogue, backing up arguments with facts, and talking about news and current events. Further, help young people evaluate the roles of media, bias, facts, and critical thinking related to current events and controversial topics with these Media Literacy Tips