‘Hamilton’ under fire for ignoring Founding Father’s ‘complicity in slavery’
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acclaimed Broadway musical “Hamilton” is facing criticism by scholars who argue it misses a key opportunity to address the Founding Father’s “complicity in slavery.”
Professor and playwright Ishmael Reed has turned his criticism of “Hamilton” into his own play, titled “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda,” which highlights Alexander Hamilton’s “complicity in slavery and his war on Native Americans,” The Associated Press reported.
“My goal is that this be a counter-narrative to the text that has been distributed to thousands of students throughout the country,” said Mr. Reed, who teaches at the California College of the Arts and the University of California at Berkeley.
According to the AP, professors from “Harvard to the University of Houston to Rutgers” are “incensed” by Mr. Miranda’s glowing portrayal of Hamilton, who celebrates open borders and denounces slavery in the play.
“It’s a fictional rewrite of Hamilton,” said Nancy Isenberg, a professor of U.S. history at Louisiana State University. “You can’t pick the history facts that you want.”
A publicist for “Hamilton” and Mr. Miranda declined to comment for the AP story, but the playwright has stated in the past that his musical is a work of historical fiction.
An immersive exhibit of the play to open in Chicago this fall will also enlist Harvard Law professor and historian Annette Gordon-Reed to give it more historical context.
“There’s room for my earlier commentary, Mr. Reed’s take, the grand musical itself, and now a good faith effort to consider the musical’s subject in his real-world historical context — which is what the exhibit is designed to do,” Ms. Gordon-Reed told the AP.
Meanwhile, Mr. Reed doesn’t believe Mr. Miranda’s musical can be salvaged, even with edits.
“I think the corrective would be to close the show,” he said.
The female co-hosts on ABC’s “The View” addressed Mr. Reed’s criticism during Thursday’s episode.
“Hamilton was not a perfect human being by any stretch, and yet he’s depicted in that play as a great guy,” Joy Behar said.
“Hamilton was certainly a social climber,” Sunny Hostin added. “He married into a slave-holding family, and not only that, he conducted transactions on behalf of the family selling and purchasing slaves. And I think Lin-Manuel did a disservice by not discussing that in the play. I think that he did a disservice to the African-American community by not portraying that, and I’m disappointed.”
Ms. Hostin pleaded with Mr. Miranda to add another song to “Hamilton” that better addresses his past.
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