In “The Hill We Climb,” Gorman describes herself as a “skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,” who can dream of being president one day, “only to find herself reciting for one.” Why do you think she describes herself as a “skinny Black girl”? Why is it important that her ancestors were slaves and she was raised by a single mother?

Gorman describes herself as “skinny Black girl” descended from slaves and raised by a single mother to emphasize her ordinariness. She uses herself as symbol to highlight that America continues to be a land of hope and opportunity where what once seemed impossible can become a reality.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gorman describes herself as a "skinny Black girl" because it helps emphasize her ordinariness. This ordinariness underscores the idea that America continues to be a land of opportunity in which everyone has a shot at rising to the top.

It is important that Gorman's ancestors were slaves, and she herself raised by a single mother, because these facts highlight how far a person from humble roots can come. As she says in the poem, despite setbacks, America is a land characterized by hope, one that advances by looking back to consider

the past we step into
and how we repair it.

Gorman is a living example of how the past has been repaired: she is no longer enslaved and, in fact, shares a podium with the new United States president as she reads the inaugural poem she has composed. She and others may be "bruised," but they are not broken.

Gorman uses herself as the symbol of America's hope and progress. Like the country as a whole, she is "fierce and free" and won't be held back or intimidated. At one time in our country's history, it would have been impossible to imagine a young Black woman holding the place of honor she does on inauguration day, but America is a country where the seeming impossible has constantly blossomed into reality. As Gorman puts it:

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.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial