Playwright and activist Lin-Manuel Miranda has been doing everything in his power to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. Miranda, whose parents and family are from the island, has been a strong advocate for the disaster-relief needs of the people from the island in recent months. Using the fame and remarkable success from his works, such as Hamilton and In the Heights, he helps prove that theater is not a lost art — far from it.
Hurricane Maria swept across the Caribbean from Sept. 16-30, making direct contact with Puerto Rico on Sept. 20. The storm knocked out power on the entire island, destroyed countless homes, and left residents without basic needs such as drinking water. For weeks, Puerto Ricans lived without being able to contact their family members.
The efforts by Miranda to bring attention to the crisis highlight the strong ties between the arts and humanities.
Get the Job Done
According to Eastern Kentucky University, social media — especially Twitter — is one of many important online tools in disaster recovery. Miranda, taking the devastation of the island personally due to his Puerto Rican roots and the fact that he has many family members that live there, has used and taken full advantage of social media. He took to Twitter and other platforms to use his voice to remind people that Puerto Ricans are American and that the United States has a responsibility to take care of its own people.
Due to his efforts and his widespread success as a Hispanic artist, Miranda received the President’s Merit Award at the Latin Grammys this year. The Latin Recording Academy president and CEO Gabriel Abaroa said that “Lin-Manuel’s urban and social poetry have provided strength and encouragement to every Latino motivated to get ahead. He has brought pride to our community by reminding us of the resilience and fortitude we demonstrate on a daily basis.”
As Miranda accepted the award, he dedicated the commendation to Puerto Rico and thanked everyone who helped provide disaster relief to the island. A couple days after he received the award, Miranda participated in the Unity March for Puerto Rico in Washington D.C. Demonstrators called for more aid from the White House for American citizens on the island.
In the Eye of a Hurricane
Most recently, Miranda announced his return to the leading role in the world-renowned musical Hamilton to support Puerto Rico. The musical features a diverse cast singing and rapping the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers. Hamilton became insanely popular, even earning Miranda a Pulitzer Prize.
Miranda, who wrote the music and lyrics for the musical, hopes that bringing Hamilton to the island will help attract tourists to it and help revive the tourism economy. More than that, Miranda wanted to convey once again to the people of the island that they are not alone, not forgotten, and that they will make a quick recovery from this disaster.
Almost Like Praying
Miranda helped Puerto Rico out of the eye of Hurricane Maria with the song It’s Almost Like Praying. The lyrics to the song list the municipalities of the American island to show that the people there are not forgotten. Miranda enlisted the help of over 20 Hispanic entertainers to participate in the song, some who also share Puerto Rican roots, like singer Luis Fonsi and actress Rita Moreno.
The title also highlights a recent controversy around the response to the latest disasters around the US. In these unfortunate events, many people respond by sending out their thoughts and prayers, and many people criticize that there is more than just praying that can be done to help. Miranda wanted to convey to the people of Puerto Rico that they would receive more than just prayers to help them through the devastation and that their fellow Americans would take action to help them through the period of survival and reconstruction.
The bilingual songwriter helped the island write its way out of the worst of Hurricane Maria with It’s Almost Like Praying. Not only did the song bring much-needed attention to the disaster-struck island, but all the profits of the song are to go to a charity founded by Miranda’s father, The Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program to Help Puerto Rico. The Hispanic Federation reports that they have raised over $14 million in less than a month and attributes part of the success to Miranda.
The Pulitzer Prize winner remains determined to help Puerto Rico however he can and encourages others to do the same. Over a quarter of the island and over half of the neighboring Virgin Islands remain without power. Even simple solutions, like social media, can fuel the fire for revolutions. Progress is slow, but with the help of people like Miranda, our fellow citizens can recover from the calamity.
Lin-Manuel Miranda – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Miranda in Hamilton – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
Geo Sique is a writer from Boise, ID with a bachelor’s’ degrees in Communication and French and a background in journalism. When she’s not travelling outside Idaho, she loves rock climbing, hot springs, camping, and exploring the world around her.
Website: Georgette Siqueiros