How “Hamilton”Erases Slavery and People of Color in Colonial New York

On Thursday’s edition of Living in Spanglish, I interviewed Rutgers-Newark professor Lyra Monteiro about her article “Race Conscious Casting and the Erasure of the Black Past in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton” which appeared in the February 2016 issue of The Public Historian. We talked about the fact that aside from Sally Hemmings, who was Thomas Jefferson’s slave and consort, there are no other people of color characters in the play, which obscures the fact that during the era New York’s population was 14% black, and most were slaves. We also discussed the lack of references to slavery in the story and the fact that many of the founding fathers were slave owners, and that Hamilton himself married into one of New York’s largest slave-owning families, despite participating in the New York Manumission Society. Monteiro questions whether using this play as an educational tool actually serves New York’s public school children, who are majority of color.


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