Award-winning actor, playwright, composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for his hit rap and hip-hop musical "Hamilton," received the 2017 Freedom Award from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society (USCHS) Tuesday evening.
After being praised for his work in history and the arts by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Miranda thanked immigrants for their contributions to the United States.
"Without humanities and arts programs, I wouldn't be standing here," Miranda said. "And without Alexander Hamilton and the countless other immigrants who built this country, it's very probable that very few of us would be here either."
The crowd gathered in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall, which included several members of Congress, applauded Miranda's remarks.
"Our story also includes the hundred of thousands of young people today who came to this country with their parents and know no other home," he said, apparently referencing "Dreamers," or those who will be affected by the Trump administration's decision to rescind the the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
"Their parents have no documents but their kids are getting college degrees, working as first responders during disasters like Harvey and Irma, and yes, in the case of my congressman, Adriano Espaillat, some are even working as lawmakers in the United States Congress," Miranda said.
It's not the first time those involved with "Hamilton" have criticized the White House. Vice President Mike Pence attended a November 2016 performance of Hamilton shortly after then President-elect Trump's victory(with a few cheers mixed in) before the show started.
At the end of the performance, Brandon Victor Dixon, the Broadway actor who plays Vice President Aaron Burr, read a statement to Pence, thanking him for attending, but adding that "we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us."
"We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us," Dixon concluded.
in a series of tweets to apologize after Pence was "harassed."
In his speech Tuesday, Miranda attributed his success to his New York public education and called the National Endowment For The Humanities as well as the National Endowment for the Arts "so vital to our democracy."
Miranda has received a host of awards including an Emmy, two Grammys and the MacArthur "Genius Grant." He was also named one of the "Most Influential People in the World" by Time Magazine in 2016 and was nominated for a 2017 Academy Award. Miranda's Hamilton received Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score in 2016 in addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, making it one of only nine musicals to win the distinction in 98 years.
The USCHS presents the Freedom Award annually "to recognize and honor individuals and organizations that have advanced greater public understanding and appreciation for freedom," according to their website.
"We are very honored to present this award to Mr. Miranda," said USCHS Chairman Don Carlson in a statement. "We give him this award because of his unique ability to engage new audiences with our history and his dedication to inspiring informed civic participation."
The USCHS also said that Miranda "has made amazing strides to advance public understanding of and appreciation for freedom through his work on the musical Hamilton and his subsequent Hamilton Education Project."
"Hamilton's story reached out to me across the centuries and wouldn't let me go," Miranda said.