A golden silhouette of Alexander Hamilton, the logo for the Broadway musical "Hamilton," topped a three-tiered birthday cake which faced an audience of about 40 people. Shimmery balloons floated above speakers for the event A Celebration of Alexander Hamilton as they shared their perspectives on how the first United States Secretary of the Treasury changed the world of politics and modern entertainment.
Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington commemorated Hamilton’s Jan. 11 birthday at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Whikehart Auditorium in the John Waldron Arts Center.
Ivy Tech instructors and an IU employee spoke about the modern-day political polarization of which Hamilton warned, the history of the Constitutional Convention, which Hamilton attended, and the artistic merit of the posthumous biographical musical “Hamilton."
The event also featured performances from Rachel Holland and Paul Pisano of the local choir Bloomington Chamber Singers. The duo presented songs from “Hamilton” before and after the speakers’ presentation.
Housley, a political science instructor at Ivy Tech, spoke on political trends demonstrated by Pew Research polls, such as one about marrying outside of party lines and another on the role of politics in communities. She emphasized the digital age’s role in partisan bias.
“Obviously, the internet became a big game-changer,” Housley said. “The Founders couldn’t have predicted Twitter, but they did have whispers and gossip.”
Housley also read two excerpts from "Federalist Paper #65: The Powers of the Senate Continues." The Federalist Papers were a collection of essays written by John Jay, James Madison and Hamilton which supported ratifying the U.S. Constitution.
Ivy Tech history professor Hall presented material regarding 17th-century British politics and the founding fathers.
Matt Herndon, stewardship coordinator for IU’s College of Arts and Sciences, expressed his love for “Hamilton” and how the Grammy and Pulitzer-winning musical affected expectations for future musicals. This musical soundtrack was one of the first with hip-hop influences. It also had “boogie-woogie” jazz and R&B influences, Herndon said.
“If you listen to the show’s soundtrack, a keen ear can hear that there’s more than just hip-hop,” Herndon said.
The event was funded by the Circle of Ivy grant, which was created to provide students with funds to access higher education. The Circle of Ivy organization, a women's philanthropy group, has raised about $500,000 for the grant. This year, the grant will pay for four Ivy Tech students’ trips to New York City to see “Hamilton” on Broadway as a part of the Facing Freedom educational opportunity.
Following the event, guests were invited downstairs where homemade vanilla cupcakes were provided by the Ivy Tech baking and pastry program. Attendees could also register to vote by filling out paperwork provided at the event.