'55th NAACP Image Awards' Honors Poet Amanda Gorman With The Chairman’s Award Presented by Unilever

The award salutes the poet and activist as one of the youngest global changemakers of our time.

The 55th NAACP Image Awards, with the support of Unilever, is proud to honor award-winning writer, poet, and activist Amanda Gorman with the prestigious Chairman’s Award for her dedication to education and the political power of verse to evoke systemic and individual change.

As the youngest presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history and internationally acclaimed New York Times bestselling author, Gorman is acknowledged by an award that recognizes individuals who demonstrate exemplary public service and use their distinct platforms as agents of change. Past honorees include United States Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, actor Samuel L. Jackson, civil rights icon Reverend James Lawson, and Rep. Maxine Waters.

Gorman, daughter of Dr. Joan Wicks, was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, where she began writing at just a few years old. Back then, she was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder and speech impediment, the latter of which she’s called one of her “greatest strengths” that both informed her poem writing and helped her find her voice. 

Gorman established her successful career on the notion that language is often at the heart of movements for change, a belief that stemmed from her early years. As a middle schooler, she discovered poems by Sonia Sanchez and studied the history and anthology of African American poetry, which further inspired her love for literary work. At age 16, she became a youth delegate for the United Nations and was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles shortly after. She also published her first poetry collection, “The One For Whom Food Is Not Enough,” which precedes her handful of books, “Change Sings,” “Something, Someday,” and “Call Us What We Carry.”

In her youth, Gorman attended New Roads School in Santa Monica and continued her studies at Harvard University, where she graduated cum laude with a B.A. in sociology in 2020. While still a student, she founded her nonprofit organization One Pen One Page, a collective of global programs and initiatives focusing on creative writing and leadership for underserved youth. The poet was also involved with organizations like She’s The First, 826National, and the Amplifier Foundation, all dedicated to empowering children, young girls, and today’s most important movements.

By this time, Gorman had proved herself to be a committed advocate for racial justice, oppression, marginalization, and gender equality, as demonstrated by her inspiring work. But in 2021, she reached new levels of prestige when she was selected as the youngest poet to write and read her work, "The Hill We Climb,” at a presidential inauguration, where President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in. Her unforgettable performance launched her to worldwide fame and gave her an even larger platform to use poetry as a powerful instrument for change.

Gorman’s stunning career firsts also led her to become the first poet to recite a poem during the Super Bowl pregame ceremony, where she honored frontline COVID-19 heroes for their essential contributions during the pandemic.

Over the years, Gorman’s words have earned her invitations to the Obama White House, the Library of Congress, and the Lincoln Center and allowed her to perform for figures like former Secretary Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, and fellow activist Malala Yousafzai. Today, she continues to serve as the voice of a new generation, using impactful words to inspire political action. 

"Frederick Douglas once said reformers see what ought to be by reflection of what is, an endeavor to remove the contradiction," she said while accepting her award. "That is to say, we must transform our dreams into fact from fiction."

The NAACP and Unilever congratulate Amanda Gorman with this year’s Chairman’s Award honor.

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