What Amanda Gorman and Jericho Brown show us about funding the humanities 

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Image: Ashley Pemberton

Jericho Brown’s “The Tradition” was published April 2019 by Copper Canyon Press.

In a nation divided, the humanities may be the saving grace of the human spirit.

Two artistic visionaries offer a light at the end of the tunnel. Poets Amanda Gorman and Jericho Brown give insightful perspectives on the ebb and flow of the human essence.

Amanda Gorman is a Los Angeles native who began writing at an early age. She graduated from Harvard University in 2016 and recently became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history after speaking at the inauguration of President Joe Biden Jan 20.

In her poem, “The Hill We Climb, Gorman perfectly captures the versatility of the human spirit. She frames her speech with hope for the country and offers a candid depiction of the nation, highlighting our advancements and speaking bluntly about our faults. She has confidence that our nation can recover from the moral separation, and she expresses this sentiment in her poem.

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. / And this effort very nearly succeeded. / But while democracy can be periodically delayed, / It can never be permanently defeated,” Gorman read from her poem.

Renowned poet and 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown encompasses a similar message in his poem, Inaugural, published in the New York Times. He notes the steps we have taken as well as the steps we have yet to take.

“We were told that it is dangerous to touch / And yet we journeyed here, where what we believe / Meets what must be done,” Brown‘s poem reads.

Brown received his doctorate from the University of Houston and his MFA from the University of New Orleans. He has published three poetry collections titled “Please,”  “The New Testament” and “The Tradition.” All have received stellar reviews and won numerous accolades.

Brown’s work is only one of the many examples showcasing the impact humanities can have on the community. There is no question that our nation has experienced a separation of moral principles, and that separation can be mended by the realization and connection of a common good.

Visionaries like Amanda Gorman and Jericho Brown offer a look at social equity not as a competition, but as a bridge we must build together. The humanities are founded on this bridge, on the common good. The journey to this common good will not be easy, but the subsidization of humanities is the first step in realizing and achieving something bigger than ourselves.