Black Brilliance is Not Abstract

Feb 24, 2021

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By Victoria Graham
Manager of College Access

When Amanda Gorman spoke at the presidential inauguration, millions were drawn to her words, her masterful delivery, and her ability to light a fire of hope through her lyrics. She stood at the podium as a symbol of Black literacy excellence, drawing on the great poets before her, most notably the late Maya Angelou. 

As the days unfolded, Amanda would gain millions of followers across social media. We learned she has a collection of poems being released, and she most recently recited an original piece before the Super Bowl. The sky is the limit.

But as we watch Amanda rise to cultural fame, let us not internalize Black Brilliance as an abstract quality designed for the select chosen ones. Black Brilliance is achieved in the everyday details of life. It is cultivated through culturally relevant curriculums. It grows from school policies that support creativity. It manifests in Black kids seeing representations of themselves in teachers, administrators, and auxiliary staff. Black Brilliance is the result of educational equity.

Amanda Gorman Inauguration Poem

The danger of seeing Black Brilliance as abstract is that doing so absolves us of our collective responsibility to create environments for it to flourish. Instead, we must operate with the mindset that every Black child is already brilliant and is worthy of the policies, practices, and procedures needed to allow their brilliance to shine.

As we march forward in our fight for every child in every neighborhood to excel in a world-class school and thrive in the Houston of tomorrow, let us see Amanda Gorman in every child we serve. Amanda’s unique talents are to be celebrated, but there are millions of Amandas waiting to be our next teachers, doctors, scientists, historians, writers, inventors, and cultural phenoms.


If you are inspired to join our movement to fight for educational equity in Houston public schools, learn more here.