“Hamilton’s America,” a documentary about the making of the groundbreaking musical “Hamilton,” aired a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve watched it five times, in part because I’m so proud of my amazing friend and college classmate Chris Jackson, who was nominated for a Tony Award for his portrayal of George Washington in the show. But, it goes way beyond that.
Not to give too much away, but this film is truly inspiring. Past and present politicians from both sides of the aisle discuss how our founding fathers were flawed, and how imperative it is that we not separate these flaws from the whole of their character and the contributions they made in creating our country. They also highlight just how difficult it was to create a new government from the ground up, that the circumstances of our birth shouldn’t determine our future, and how it’s possible to effect change even in the darkest times.
Given the rampant negativity of our current political climate, it could be easy for us, and especially our young students at Oglethorpe, to become disheartened with the impression that our government is irrevocably broken – that our vote doesn’t count. I’ll admit that I myself felt this hopelessness as of late, but “Hamilton’s America” has restored my faith in our perpetually evolving political process. While the “American Experiment” may have its problems, it is still an incredible thing.
I am not throwing away my shot!
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot!
– Alexander Hamilton, from “My Shot” in “Hamilton”
I shared my sentiments with Mounica Kota, a recent graduate who is now working in Oglethorpe’s Center for Civic Engagement. We agreed that it is so important during these trying political times to excite our students about our roles as citizens – to let them know that we can all make an impact, that we do have power, and that it’s not hopeless. “Hamilton’s America” provides that lightning rod of positivity.
We were inspired to do something. I work closely with faculty members, so I already knew that both Dr. Reshmi Hebbar and Dr. Sarah Terry are teaching elements of “Hamilton” in their classes. Mounica reminded me about Dr. Kendra King Momon’s election round table discussion on campus, and this all seemed a perfect complement to a screening of “Hamilton’s America” for the entire Oglethorpe community. (It also may be as close as you’re able to get to actually seeing the show, without spending thousands of dollars per ticket, or waiting until 2018 for the tour to come to Atlanta!)
Now this multifaceted, collaborative event combines the arts, politics, history, and current events into an evening that will encourage critical thought and debate. More importantly, we hope that it will be the catalyst for students to become active, involved citizens… Sounds just like the Oglethorpe I know and love!
Please join us for Hamilton: An Oglethorpe Discussion, facilitated by Dr. Reshmi Hebbar, and CCE’s Election Round Table, facilitated by Dr. Kendra King Momon, on November 7, 4-7 p.m. in the Trustee Room of the Turner Lynch Campus Center!