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Broadway speaks out on racial injustice amid George Floyd protests

Broadway shows, theatrical institutions and unions have spoken out against police brutality and racial injustice in light of the ongoing protests occurring across the country.

Protesters demonstrate over the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer at a rally on May 30, 2020 in New York. (Photo: Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

Broadway shows, theatrical institutions and unions have spoken out against police brutality and racial injustice in light of the ongoing protests occurring across the country.

Over the weekend, productions including “Hadestown,” “Hamilton,” “Moulin Rouge!” “Company” and theatrical organizations ranging from New York Theatre Workshop to Second Stage, as well as the Broadway League and Actors’ Equity issued statements about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In one of the strongest statements, Lin-Manuel Miranda called the fact that “Hamilton” has not previously used its official banner to denounce racism and white supremacy a “moral failure” and vowed to do more.

“‘Hamilton’ doesn’t exist without the black and brown artists who created and revolutionized and changed the world through the culture, music, and language of hip hop,” Miranda said in an online video. “It doesn’t exist without the brilliant black and brown artists in our cast, crew, and production team who breathe life into this story every time it’s performed.”

As noted by Miranda, “Hamilton” has previously spoken out against the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting as well as the attendance of Vice President Mike Pence at the production shortly after the presidential election. Other individual Broadway shows have taken their own stances on current events in the past, including the 2016 “Kinky Boots” video on North Carolina’s transgender bathroom bill.

This time, many members of the industry have publicly taken a stance on racial injustice.

The Broadway League Statement on the killing of George Floyd

— The Broadway League (@BroadwayLeague) May 31, 2020
The murder of George Floyd was unconscionable and indefensible. We stand in the community that seeks justice for George Floyd and the families of all Black Americans who have had their lives taken by racism and white supremacy.

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) May 30, 2020

The statements come after Floyd died after being pinned to the ground by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department. In response, protestors have been holding marches in New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Atlanta and elsewhere.

We ALL can show the way the world can be. In the words of Orpheus, “with each other we are stronger than we know.” See below for ways you can help. #BlackLivesMatter #StandWithUs #Allies #ICantBreathe #WeHaveHadEnough

— Hadestown (@hadestown) May 31, 2020

Alongside the statements, productions, including “Hamilton” and “Moulin Rouge!” urged donations to national bailout funds as well as to legal and grassroots organizations centered on combating racism and injustice. The team behind “What the Constitution Means to Me,” seen on Broadway in the 2018-2019 season, made a $6,000 donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and encouraged others to contribute.

“As a company led by White people, we also recognize our role and responsibility in the systemic racism in our country,” Matt Ross, a producer of “What the Constitution Means To Me” wrote in an email to Broadway News. “We are responsible for taking action and for using our platform to speak out and stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues and communities.”

We stand with our black and brown brothers and sisters. Please join us in donating to the @MNFreedomFund, Liberty Fund, and Louisville Community Bail Fund. #blacklivesmatter #freedom

— Moulin Rouge The Musical (@MoulinRougeBway) May 31, 2020

Still, while many shows and institutions did issue statements, some members of the organizations bemoaned what they saw as delayed responses, as social media posts filtered in Saturday and Sunday afternoon.