What a week! We spent Tuesday and Wednesday on the Hill with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who came to town to receive the US Capitol Historical Society’s Freedom Award and stayed to advocate for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Tuesday evening started off with the US Capitol Historical Society’s award ceremony, which featured Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Representative John Lewis, and Donald Carlson, Chair of the USCHS Board of Trustees, recognizing Lin-Manuel for his tremendous work creating Hamilton: An American Musical and the Hamilton Education Program, which integrates Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Era into high school studies.
In his acceptance speech, Lin-Manuel noted “without humanities and arts programs, I wouldn’t be standing here today” and underscored the importance of ensuring that all youth, rural and urban, have similar access. “The fact is,” he noted, “that in places like Appalachia and California’s Central Valley and Native American reservations and the Mississippi Delta and vast swaths of the Great Plains, the private resources simply do not exist to provide kids with the kinds of programs that I was just lucky enough to grow up with. This is why the [NEH] and the [NEA] are so vital to our democracy. Without these resources, we are essentially telling these kids without access to the arts, ‘Your world is small. Don’t dream too big.’”
We then moved on to the “Congress and the Humanities Showcase,” which the National Humanities Alliance produced in conjunction with the USCHS. The Humanities Showcase recognized Congress for its ongoing support for the NEH and honored the creative and innovative work the NEH supports in serving K-12 students, veterans, tribal nations, and rural communities. A bi-partisan group of Congress members introduced projects from around the country and underscored the importance of the NEH. See more here.
Finally, Lin-Manuel dedicated the next day to traveling around the Capitol with us (while singing and snapping selfies) to make the case for the importance of broad access to the arts and humanities. He joined a bi-partisan group from the New York delegation and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which funds the NEH and NEA. He also thanked the chairs of the Senate Cultural Caucus, Congressional Humanities Caucus, and Congressional Arts Caucus. Check out pictures of these meetings, the one-on-ones, and hallway run-ins here.
We are extremely grateful to Lin-Manuel Miranda for joining us on the Hill, amplifying the messages our advocates have been sending for the past several months.