Story at a glance

  • Amanda Gorman was the first youth poet laureate and the youngest inaugural poet in memory.
  • An activist, Gorman’s poems often discuss issues of race and racism.
  • Gorman is slated to perform ahead of the NFL’s Super Bowl LV.

In a lineup of performers that include H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan and The Weeknd, Amanda Gorman’s name fits right in after the youngest inaugural poet in memory became a household name nearly overnight. 

The first youth poet laureate made an impression with her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” which she said was inspired by the U.S. Capitol insurrection, and while the NFL usually shies away from the political, Gorman is known for her vocal activism.


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She is scheduled to perform an original poem ahead of Super Bowl LV, recognizing the three honorary captains chosen by the NFL to participate in the official on-field coin toss ceremony. Trimaine Davis, a teacher from Los Angeles, Suzie Dorner, a nurse from Tampa, and James Martin, a veteran from Pittsburgh, represent "the thousands of health-care professionals, educators, and veterans throughout our country who continue to care for, heal and support those in need during this pandemic," said the NFL. 

“We are honored to recognize these three individuals who represent the best in all of us,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “During this incredibly challenging time in our lives, Trimaine, Suzie, and James have exemplified the essence of leadership, each in their own way. We are grateful for their commitment and proud to share their stories and recognize them during this special moment on Super Bowl Sunday.”

Davis, a retention coordinator for the VIP Scholars program at UCLA, was recognized for his work to bridge the digital divide for students during the coronavirus pandemic and leadership in the community. Working with the CSU Northridge Black Male Initiative, San Diego State’s Student African American Brotherhood, Afrikan Student Union and other groups, Davis said his work focused on first-generation college students, especially students of color. 


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“I’m still very surprised. I’m probably going to be at the Super Bowl, like, this is not happening,” he told CBS.

Dorner, the COVID-19 ICU nurse manager at Tampa General Hospital, has been on the front lines of the pandemic and lost two of her grandparents to COVID-19. In a video, she said her first year as a nurse manager on the front lines of the pandemic has been difficult. 

"I'm so humbled and honored, I'm speechless," Dorner told former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Derrick Brooks. 

Martin, a Marine Corps veteran, works with the Wounded Warrior Project and helped veterans connect to their family virtually, even livestreaming every home football game for a local high school for family and fans. 

"I am deeply honored. I don't know how else to say it," Martin told former Steelers player Jerome Bettis in a video. "Oh man. Oh man. Thank you so much. I truly do appreciate it."


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Published on Jan 27, 2021