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Amanda Gorman, inaugural poet, says security guard questioned if she lived in her own building

UPDATED: Mon., March 8, 2021

Poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration for Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.  (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)
Poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration for Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)
By Matthew Ormseth Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Amanda Gorman, whose recitation of a poem about this country’s halting progress in matters of race and equality at President Joe Biden’s inauguration vaulted her onto a national stage, said Friday she had been followed by a security guard who questioned whether she lived in her own building.

Gorman, 22, who grew up near Westchester, wrote on Twitter late Friday that the guard had “tailed” her as she walked home, then asked if she in fact lived in her building. “You look suspicious,” the guard said, according to Gorman.

Gorman said she showed the guard her keys and let herself into the building. “He left, no apology,” she wrote. “This is the reality of black girls: One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat.”

Gorman didn’t immediately return a message sent through her website seeking comment.

Gorman, who attended the New Roads School in Santa Monica, became the first youth poet laureate of Los Angeles when she was 16. She was recognized as a national youth poet laureate three years later while studying at Harvard University.

The youngest poet to speak at a presidential inauguration, Gorman recited the poem “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s swearing-in, just two weeks after a mob of former President Trump’s supporters breached the U.S. Capitol in a violent bid to keep Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

Gorman described herself in the poem as “a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,” yet one who “can dream of becoming president.”

She has two forthcoming books — a poetry collection and a children’s book — due to be published by Penguin Random House in September, according to her website.

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