The words of Amanda Gorman proclaiming her poetry at Joe Biden's inauguration still ring in my ears. I was surprised to learn that she grew up with speech struggles. Amanda trained herself by listening to and singing "Aaron Burr, Sir" from the musical Hamilton. On January 20, Amanda dazzled us with her inaugural poem, "The Hill We Climb."
Amanda, thank you for choosing to unmute yourself. You inspire us with the way you bring words to life.
I grew up with a speech impediment. Even through high school, I struggled with saying words with the letter "R". A sentence such as this would create terror:
Rex threw the round red rubber ball right before the great World War.
I became masterful at avoiding words that would trigger humiliation. Bullies delighted, trying to force me to speak. I learned to go on mute. I felt dumb and unworthy into early adulthood.
Up to 5 percent of children have speech disorders. Having a speech issue can create enormous social and emotional challenges.
We need to help children, and even adults, to find courage and strength to share their voices with the world.
Too many people struggle to speak because of some sort of impediment or some form of oppression.
Each of us has a song to sing, a poem to proclaim, or a story to tell.
Let's unmute together for the good of one another.