“And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?”
There were always tears in the audience when Phillipa Soo sang that line near the end of the Broadway musical Hamilton. Soo was playing the role of Eliza Hamilton, who spent a lifetime trying to fulfill her husband Alexander Hamilton’s curtailed legacy. Eliza, who barely gets a footnote in the history books compared to her founding father husband, was a force of philanthropy. The ripples of her work can still be felt today.
Eliza Schuyler Hamilton founded Graham Windham as an orphanage in 1806, and the organization is still alive today, over a century later as a family and youth services organization. They serve over 4,000 children a year, providing foster care, counseling for at-risk families, and a therapeutic school.
Soo, together with Hamilton‘s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, couldn’t resist linking their show to Eliza’s legacy. Soo initiated The Eliza Project, a scholarship program to provide Graham Windham students with workshops in acting, dancing, and rap.
Hamilton‘s assistant dance captain, Morgan Marcell, recruited many cast members to participate in “Share Your Stories,” his pen-pal initiative between artists and Graham students. The goal is to encourage students to take “authorship over their own lives.”
Members of the Hamilton cast and crew were also instrumental in connecting Graham Windham with Broadway Cares, a grant-making program which provides funding to projects for underserved communities. Broadway Cares was responsible for funding most of the above-mentioned projects.
While Eliza Hamilton’s achievements were her own, it cannot be doubted that it is the flame Hamilton re-lit for her that is responsible for the Smithsonian placing her portrait in the collection of the National Museum of American History’s new philanthropy collection. Before it goes to its permanent home there, the portrait, which is in fact donated by Graham Windham, will be displayed beside Miranda’s green silk suit from his role as Hamilton in his own Broadway production.
*Photo credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock