The New Musical Hamilton Challenges us to Rise Up and Empower the People

You might think a new musical about the Founding Fathers would be a conservative, patriotic tribute telling us the same white-washed story we often hear, but you would be in for quite a surprise. The new musical Hamilton at the Public Theater in NY is progressive and timely, using the style and message of hip hop to revisit the creation of this nation. Creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda (who also created and starred in In the Heights several years ago) reminds us that hip hop originated when those who were traditionally marginalized raised their voices. We see this concept run throughout the show, as it asks: Who tells your story? Whose story is told? Who has a voice? Who is silenced? The show explicitly highlights the hypocrisy and contradiction at the heart of our country’s democracy, a democracy whose freedom depended on slavery. We see Alexander Hamilton as a struggling immigrant, and we see a multiracial cast playing Hamilton, Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Burr, and more. We see them struggle and debate, through brilliant rap battles, about slavery, states’ rights, federalism, and taxes. This show is a call to reclaim what democracy really means, a society where the people are empowered, where freedom and justice are not just ideals written down on old parchment but embodied in the lived experiences of the people. We need to rise up once again, demand justice, and shout, “I am not throwing away my shot.”

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