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‘The Forgotten Founding Fathers, A Hip-Hop Odyssey’ Educates and Entertains

Written By Gina Margillo
April 11, 2024 at 5:26 PM

Jeffrey Cason – Choreographer. Photo courtesy artist management

The staging of Howard Zinn’s book, “The People’s History of the United States,” which elevates the voices of unsung heroes to offer fresh perspectives on the development of the United States, from Columbus to modern-day warfare, was a game changer for education-entertainment.

Along with other critical theories, it taught us to question the lens through which we learn, and to ask the question: Who decides which stories are told, or not told?

The hip-hop musical “Hamilton” further revolutionized the telling of America’s history by altering not just who told the story, but how that story was told. History meets hip-hop once again in “The Forgotten Founding Fathers,” a theatrical journey that explores history through the lens of African American, Latino, and Indigenous heroes. The production, presented by The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, was written and produced by hip-hop legend Karl “Dice Raw” Jenkins, a frequent collaborator with The Roots, with the idea of connecting audiences with history in a more engaging and creative way.

As part of the Family Fun Live! Series, the show teaches the contributions of lesser-known, extraordinary people during pivotal times such as the American Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Reconstruction period. We’ll celebrate and learn from Colonel Ty Cornelius, who escaped slavery and fought as a Black Loyalist during the American Revolution, and Phillis Wheatley, who became one of the best known poets of the 19th Century, despite being enslaved. We’ll also hear from Prince Whipple, Wentworth Cheswell, Sojourner Truth, and Bernardo de Galvez.

 

Forgotten Founding Fathers. (Photo courtesy artist management)

The show was choreographed by Liberty City’s own, award-winning, Jeffery “J. Case” Cason, Jr. Cason Jr., whose credits include, “The Color Purple,” “The Wiz,” and “God’s Trombones.” He says he is thrilled to be bringing this show to the Arsht Center. As an educator and a performer, he values the opportunity to shape and prepare today’s youth.

“To perform for my hometown is truly a blessing because it’s one of my formal ways of giving back to not just my community, but beyond Miami. It’s like representing all of South Florida. It’s a gift like no other.”

In the days before the public performances, the Arsht Center has arranged for Karl Jenkins and the cast to hold a series of workshops at Booker T Washington High School, DASH, and Arthur and Polly Conservatory of the Arts. The workshops will engage students in an exploration of history through songwriting, acting, discussions of historical relevance, and philosophy. They will also offer free performances to students of these schools on April 18th and 19th.

WHAT:The Forgotten Founding Fathers

WHEN: 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday. April 20 and 3 p.m., Sunday, April 21 

WHERE: Adrienne Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

COST: $30 tickets can be purchased online at arshtcenter.org, or at the Arsht Center box office by calling (305) 949-6722.

INFORMATION:  305-949-6722 and arshtcenter.org

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com. 

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