In this lesson, students will analyze Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” as well as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman touched the American people when she delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the presidential inauguration. Let your students be a part of her powerful message. Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in US history. Students will also read an excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. This speech was delivered April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, the evening before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968.
This is a great activity to reflect on current events as well as the Civil Rights Movement. Both speeches are connected and make a great paired texts lesson. Have students complete a close reading of both speeches, then compare and contrast themes, tones, and historical contexts. Analysis questions and answer keys are included. Poetic devices highlighted in this lesson include: tone, theme, alliteration, anaphora, idiom, and metaphor.