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Simon & Schuster Names Dana Canedy New Publisher


Mr. Karp said that while Ms. Canedy doesn’t have experience at a publishing house, not every publisher does. He was at Random House when Harold Evans, a former editor at The Sunday Times of London, came on as publisher in the 1990s. Ms. Canedy, he added, knows what a prizewinning book looks like from her time at the Pulitzers. She also understands the needs of authors, he said, because she is one.

“I think the first thing you have to be able to do is to attract authors, to cultivate authors and to champion authors,” Mr. Karp said. “I wanted somebody who was going to be a magnet for the best talent.”

Simon & Schuster has been active in publishing headline-making books about the Trump administration. In just the past few weeks, it has published “The Art of Her Deal,” a biography of Melania Trump by the Washington Post reporter Mary Jordan, and “The Room Where It Happened,” John Bolton’s memoir about his time in President Trump’s administration. This month, it plans to publish “Too Much and Never Enough,” by Mary L. Trump, a niece of the president. Like Bolton’s book, which was published over objections from the White House, “Too Much and Never Enough” is facing a legal battle before it can hit shelves.

“I think they’re leading on the publishing of political books in this moment, and that’s important,” Ms. Canedy said of her new company. “I’m particularly proud to be joining them at a time when they’re doing that, and I will continue to help in that effort.”

Ms. Canedy will take over the imprint, the company’s largest and its biggest revenue generator, at a challenging moment, while the publishing house is up for sale during a pandemic. In March, ViacomCBS, which owns Simon & Schuster, said it would sell the publishing house to focus on other components of its business like sports content. But Ms. Canedy declared herself undaunted.

“Look, life is going to happen while the world moves, so you can either move with it or get left behind,” Ms. Canedy said. “You might as well do it.”



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Actors’ Equity Signs Off on Live Theater in the Berkshires


For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, Actors’ Equity is agreeing to allow a few of its members to perform onstage.

The union, which represents 51,000 actors and stage managers around the country, said it had given the green light to two summer shows in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts: an outdoor production of the musical “Godspell,” and an indoor production of the solo show “Harry Clarke.”

In recent weeks, multiple theaters featuring nonunion actors have begun resuming performances — in some cases outdoors, and in almost all cases with social distancing — and a group of Equity actors collectively developed an outdoor performance piece in New York’s Hudson Valley. And, of course, many actors have been performing online.

But “Godspell” and “Harry Clarke,” both scheduled to begin in early August in Pittsfield, Mass., are now likely to be the first productions in which union actors will perform in person before paying audiences in the United States since the threat of infection prompted Broadway and the nation’s regional theaters to shut down in mid-March. Citing safety concerns, Equity had barred its members from in-person auditions, rehearsals and performances.

“We’re not trying to stop people from doing theater, but we are trying to stop people from getting sick and/or dying,” said Kate Shindle, the president of Actors’ Equity. She called the decision to allow these two productions “very exciting, and also something to watch very closely.”

“The fact that there is going to be Equity-approved theater this summer is something that I really wasn’t sure was going to be able to happen,” she added.

At both productions, performers and stage managers will be regularly tested for the coronavirus, and audience members will have to wear masks. The infection rate in Western Massachusetts is low, and both theaters were willing to accommodate the union’s safety requirements.

Mary McColl, the union’s executive director, said she is in conversation with about 70 producers around the country seeking to resume performances by fall. But, she said, no other approvals are imminent, because “as we’ve been working through the protocols that would be necessary, everything started to go crazy in a lot of these states. We’re not in control of the virus, and neither are these producers.”

“Godspell,” a beloved and oft-performed 1971 musical by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak, is to be staged by the Berkshire Theater Group for a month beginning Aug. 6. The musical, adapted from the Gospel of Matthew and exploring biblical parables, will have a 10-person cast led by Nicholas Edwards as Jesus; it will be set in 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate Maguire, the artistic director and chief executive of the Berkshire Theater Group, said the production, directed by Alan Filderman, would be staged in a tent erected in a parking area; she said the tent would have about 100 socially distanced seats, vastly smaller than the 700-seat capacity of her indoor main stage.

The cast will isolate together in a house, and will be regularly tested for the coronavirus, she said. And the production, although fully staged with sets and costumes, will include no physical contact between actors — there will even be a contactless crucifixion, she said.

“We’ve never done ‘Godspell,’ but it was the one show I thought could make sense in this world,” Maguire said. “I’m kind of dying to hear ‘Save the People.’”

McColl said the “Godspell” approval was particularly significant because singing is considered a potential source of virus transmission. She said the actors would be distant from one another and would sing past one another during the production.

“Harry Clarke,” a one-man play by David Cale, is about an ingratiating con artist, who will be played at Barrington Stage Company by Mark H. Dold. The play, scheduled to have a two-week run starting Aug. 5, will be staged inside a 520-seat theater; to enable social distancing, only 163 people will be allowed to attend each performance, and Dold will perform upstage, far from the audience. The audience will undergo temperature checks, and will have to follow rules about how to enter and exit the theater to reduce crowding.

Barrington Stage says it will have an entirely digital experience — no physical tickets or programs. The theater has also reconfigured its air-conditioning system to increase the circulation of fresh air.

Both Maguire and the artistic director at Barrington, Julianne Boyd, said they could not make peace with a summer without live performance in the Berkshires, a region whose economy relies heavily on cultural tourism.

“I am acutely aware of the responsibility that we’re taking on — Berkshire County has been really healthy the past several weeks, and I know we need to keep it that way,” Maguire said. “Also, every mothering instinct that I have is coming out for these actors. But I felt like with ‘Godspell’ we could do this and keep everyone safe.”

Boyd, who has been working to get permission to proceed for two months, was also determined. She is also planning an outdoor cabaret in a park in August, and hoping to stage several other one-performer indoor performances.

“People need live theater,” she said. “Let’s face it: art has healing powers, and I want to start that healing process safely and responsibly.”



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What’s on TV Tuesday: ‘The Truth’ and Jim Jefferies


THE TRUTH (2020) Rent or buy on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube. Lovers of French cinema will delight in this new drama by the writer and filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Shoplifters”). Catherine Deneuve plays Fabienne, an acclaimed French movie star who publishes a memoir titled “The Truth.” To celebrate its release, Fabienne’s daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche), a screenwriter, visits from New York with her husband (Ethan Hawke) and their young daughter. What ensues is a thoughtful, comedic portrait of mother-daughter dynamics. Fabienne is wrapped up in her own image and is in denial over her fading legacy, while Lumir claims her mother’s confessional book is riddled with lies. In her review for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis named the movie a Critic’s Pick and wrote, “The drama is measured out in sips, in gazes, gestures, silences, off-handed humor and shocks of brutality.”

JIM JEFFERIES: ‘INTOLERANT’ (2020) Stream on Netflix. The Australian comedian Jim Jefferies may no longer have a spot on the late-night lineup — “The Jim Jefferies Show” on Comedy Central went off the air last year — but he is still keeping busy. In this new Netflix special, his latest since 2018’s “This Is Me Now,” Jefferies recounts in excruciating detail a date during which he dismissed his lactose intolerance and indulged in cheese. It did not go well.

TO THE STARS (2020) Stream on Hulu; rent on Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes or Vudu. Set in the 1960s, this coming-of-age drama by the director Martha Stephens follows Iris (Kara Hayward), an introverted teenager in rural Oklahoma who is a pariah at school who goes home only to face her emotionally abusive mother (Jordana Spiro). Her life gets a breath of fresh air when Maggie (Liana Liberato), a free-spirited, new girl in town, defends Iris from bullies, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship. Maggie coaxes Iris out of her shell, but as the girls bond, Iris begins to doubt Maggie’s story about her past. And once the truth about her family gets out, it throws the small town into turmoil.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: THE VOTE 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). This two-part documentary series chronicles the long battle for American women’s right to vote and rejects the notion that men simply gave women the chance to partake in democracy. “The Vote” concludes Tuesday with a look at the final four years of the campaign leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, when two suffragists butt heads over whether to take a more moderate approach or demand their rights with confrontational strategies. The series is narrated by the actress Kate Burton. It also features voice acting by the stars Mae Whitman, Audra McDonald, Laura Linney and Patricia Clarkson.



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Cherokee Women Aim for a Better Life in ‘Crooked Hallelujah’


Cans of Aqua Net. Screen doors that flap. Ford Pintos. Wood-grained contact paper on toilet lids. Cheap Zebco fishing reels. Sinead O’Connor cassette tapes. Establishments with names like Padlock Pizza and DoRight Donuts.

In her more than promising first novel, “Crooked Hallelujah,” Kelli Jo Ford summons the details of minimum-wage life in the last quarter of the 20th century. She does this without cluttering her spare sentences, which is why her details resonate.

Ford is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and her book opens in that state. In pickup trucks and cars with primer-painted doors, her characters move between there and Texas during the 1980s oil bust and later. They’re in flux, hoping to escape the sort of life one puts this way: “All I’ve ever done is screw up and react.”

This is a novel in stories, a dread form in the wrong hands. The point of view shifts, vertiginously, from one chapter to the next, as if you are watching a heist from multiple security cameras. But “Crooked Hallelujah” has a supple cohesiveness. It also has two primary and subtly curving narrative arcs — those of a Cherokee mother and daughter, Justine and Reney.

When we first meet Justine, she’s a lanky 15. Her mother is a Holy Roller who won’t let her play basketball because men will see her legs. Justine’s father fled before she got to know him.

The men in “Crooked Hallelujah” are rarely more than distant louts, some crueler than others. They compete to out-awful one another. They’re guys who — maybe like all of us, I don’t know — seem to be on a perpetual, fatuous search for Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Justine gets pregnant. Her life is so small that even Charles Manson’s face on the cover of Rolling Stone calls to her. To join what remained of his family would, at minimum, be a way out.

We find Justine holding down jobs in factories and honky tonks, usually in back-to-back shifts. She sleeps with the wrong men. She has blue eyes and calls herself “a hillbilly half-breed.” She’s fierce, especially when it comes to the notion that her daughter should have a better life than she has had.

Reney doesn’t know her father, either. She grows up mostly in Texas, where Justine has moved to be with a man. She’s good with horses, and a strong student. She ends up working at a Dairy Queen when a Pell grant falls through.

One man remembers Reney, in high school, as “a Cherokee princess, a wild girl in the good classes, scary from behind the three-point line and sneaky on defense.” Before long she’s drifting across the country, doing banquet hall work, hoping to get into college.

Credit…Val Ford Hancock

As a writer, Ford is quietist. Her book reads like a series of acoustic songs recorded on a single microphone in a bare room with a carpet. There are times when you might wish for more boldness, but she never puts a wrong foot. This is a writer who carefully husbands her resources. Small scenes begin to glitter.

“Crooked Hallelujah” has an elegiac rather than a comic tone. Yet when I combed back through my notes, I realized that so many moments had made me smile. Her narrators walk through life saying things like “I tried to smooth my hair and did my best to pull my shorts from my butt.”

There’s a moment in which Justine, when young, begs to go to Six Flags with her father, who has briefly re-emerged. Her Church Lady mother says to her: “If you want to ride a roller coaster in your first act as a spiritual adult, so be it.”

Later, Reney sees her estranged grandfather in a doughnut shop. She wants to accost him but can’t muster the nerve. He strides past her and she thinks, “I was pretty sure I smelled his B.O. even after he was in his truck throwing gravel.”

Justine defines college as a place where you take on debt “to study books she could have read for free.”

Some intense things happen in “Crooked Hallelujah.” There’s a robbery and gunfire. Near the end, in the near future, fires seem to presage increasingly apocalyptic events.

But Ford’s novel finds its center of gravity at the intimate human level. Justine and Reney, angels flying too close to the ground, dismiss the clean, managerial men who might give them access to the middle class. They crave the bad boys, and in one scene Reney counts up some of her mother’s lovers.

“There was the one who traveled around sharpening barbers’ razors and scissors and prided himself on keeping the kitchen knives sharp,” Ford writes. “There was a rodeo clown with the sweet dog and his own bag of makeup. Then there was the one whose friend owned the bar where Justine worked. This one wore a .38 Special in a holster he clipped to the inside of his cowboy boot.”

Justine leaves the cowboy boot guy. After she does, he sneaks into the factory where she works and puts poison ivy in her purse.

Stephen King paperbacks. Perms. Fried bologna sandwiches. Washing machines on layaway. Arms that smell like Shower to Shower. Buick LeSabres.

The details don’t matter, until they do.



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In Nick Cordero’s Death, a Reminder of Covid-19’s Unknowns


Mr. Cordero died on Sunday, more than three months after he was stricken with the coronavirus.

Doctors have been continually surprised by the progression of Covid-19 in different patients, but they have painted a general trajectory: Those who develop symptoms do so within two weeks of infection; patients who are saddled with severe disease tend to rapidly decline about seven days into their illness. Mild cases resolve in about two weeks time; more serious ones can stretch out to three to six weeks, with death — when it happens — occurring shortly thereafter.

But these numbers are built from averages, medians and estimates. Many people plagued by the coronavirus have debilitating symptoms for months, even after being discharged from the hospital. And health workers and researchers have an incomplete picture of the factors that can lead a patient onto a path toward either a speedy recovery, or fast deterioration and death.

The most severe symptoms of Covid-19 are thought to be the result of an overactive immune response, kick-started to wage war with the virus, that ultimately overwhelms the body. Damage wrought by this friendly fire can sometimes incite dangerous bouts of blood clotting — a sequence of events that was especially poorly understood at the start of the outbreak, said Dr. Phyllis Tien, a physician and infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We know so much more today than we did three months ago,” Dr. Tien said. “But every day, something new happens.”

The announcement of Mr. Cordero’s death arrived just a day after President Trump falsely claimed that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.” Dr. Bell called those comments “an insult to the people who have died, and contributed to our knowledge of this.” Even for those who have survived, their suffering can be immense and prolonged.

Researchers do not yet fully understand who is at greatest risk of serious disease. Advanced age and a shortlist of medical conditions do seem to play a role, Dr. Essien, the health equity researcher, said. But social factors play enormous roles as well — and those who are marginalized by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and more are known to be especially vulnerable to the virus. Latino and African-American residents of the United States are three times as likely to become infected by the coronavirus as white Americans, and are nearly twice as likely to die from the virus.

The list of factors that can predispose a person to severe Covid-19 will probably shift in the months and years to come, Dr. Essien said. And even those who continue to be in a low-risk category should not assume they are in a no-risk category.

Doctors and nurses are still learning, too, Dr. Tien said. But what’s clear so far is this: “Young people are definitely not immune to this disease.”



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Paapa Essiedu Knows ‘I May Destroy You’ Is Hard to Watch


This interview includes spoilers for the fourth and fifth episodes of “I May Destroy You.”

In a show that confronts viewers again and again with raw depictions of events they’re unlikely to have seen on television, the sexual assault of a young man in the fourth episode of “I May Destroy You” stands out as an especially searing moment.

The show — created by and starring Michaela Coel, and aired on HBO in the United States — is billed as exploring the issue of consent and the impact of sexual assault on a female writer who lives in London. As the woman, Arabella (played by Coel), pieces together what happened on a night that someone spiked her drink and then reports the rape to the police in the first few episodes, her best friend, Kwame (Paapa Essiedu), is by her side.

Then, in the fourth episode, Kwame experiences his own trauma. Through an app, he finds a man who can host a date with him and Damon (Fehinti Balogun), who wants to explore his sexuality. But after consensual sex, the man who is hosting assaults Kwame.

“It’s so sad,” Essiedu said in a recent interview, “because the only reason that he’s in that room at all is because he can’t take this guy back to his house, because of his dad’s homophobia.”

When Kwame reports the assault to the police, an officer responds with confusion, distrust and prejudice — an experience of not feeling valued by institutions that are supposed to protect people. Essiedu expects it will be familiar to many viewers.

In a recent Zoom interview, the actor — a 30-year-old with a stage background including roles like Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company — discussed the impact of not seeing sexual assault between men depicted on TV, survival mechanisms to marginalization and his experience working with an intimacy coordinator. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

How different does the show being available on demand on HBO (and the BBC in Britain) feel from some of the high-profile theater roles you’ve had?

I didn’t think about the difference until your friends’ grandparents start critiquing your work, and suddenly you’re like, “Wow, we’ve actually gone outside of the audience you might expect.” It feels like it’s reaching a lot of different types of people and ages, which is very thrilling.

There’s such a limit with theater. Even the most accessible theater in the world with all free tickets can only have a certain number of people who are able to be free at that time.

At some points, the show can be very challenging. What’s it like watching the episodes for you?

I watched a rough cut, and now I’m very tentatively rewatching the episodes on TV. And even though I’m in scenes, I’m seeing things and noticing connections for the first time.

There’s layers to this work, which means I think it will really benefit from rewatching. Because it’s so direct and some of it is so hard to watch, sometimes your brain can’t tolerate accessing the nuance that lies underneath it.

It’s good that the episodes haven’t been released all at once, because I think it’s really important that there’s time so we can properly taste it.

Were you and Coel thinking about how so many of the things depicted on “I May Destroy You” are so rarely — if ever — seen on TV?

Not really. That allows ego to interfere with what you’re doing. We were just trying to do justice to the story that’s put in front of us and trying to fill these characters with as much humanity as they deserve.

Who could have predicted that we would now not only be lockdown, but also in the throes of a political pandemic, which also affects the way that people are able to take on this kind of work?

I think it’s pointless to try and second guess the way that people are going to react. All we can do is make it as truthful as possible and as authentic as possible.

What’s your process for figuring out how you’re going to embody a character like Kwame?

This might be because I come from a theatrical background, but I’m just curious about how deep you can go with characters in terms of their psychology, their responses and what they don’t say.

You can learn a lot about a character from their moments of solitude and silence, and we see a lot of moments of Kwame by himself — even when he’s in the room with people, often you see him a little bit cut off from them.

We all have so many masks that we put on, which are essentially survival mechanisms to deal with the chaos of life and the world, which this time is teaching us is infinitely chaotic.

Kwame seems to respond to his marginalization by either being somewhat isolated and wary, or showing bravado.

Both of those versions of him are him.

To go back to survival mechanisms, in a world where it’s not even safe for you to fully express yourself in certain spaces, is it not a logical reaction to add an aspect of your character where you’re fearless and you’re confident and you’re unapologetically joyful or sexual?

It feels like that is a potentially useful survival mechanism in a world that can be hostile to you for no reason. That can kind of protect you.

We see Kwame experience further trauma in the way he is treated at the police station. What does it say that his experience with police officers is so different to Arabella’s?

In society, we’re more familiar with sexual assault happening to women by men, and we can prepare ourselves for what that means.

Considering how male sexual assault is chronically underrepresented in the news, in TV, music, literature, that will obviously mean that those structures that are meant to protect those people aren’t nourished and so those people are underserved. I think what we see with Kwame’s story is quite a brutal examination of this.

You don’t have to look very far at all to realize that the system isn’t currently in a place where it serves people in an egalitarian way.

What was it like working with the show’s intimacy coordinator, Ita O’Brien?

She makes any of those scenes so chill and safe. The example she sets and the practices she keeps is what makes those scenes feel real.

I did a show awhile ago called “Press,” and Charlotte Riley and I had some sex scenes in that, and we obviously didn’t have an intimacy coordinator. It was one of my first jobs of that level onscreen.

She’d already had an amazing career, so she had the experience to get us to discuss it, ask me what I thought. But if it was the other way around, or if neither of us had had that experience, it’s fully the blind leading the blind in a situation that’s incredibly dangerous and intimate.

It’s part of a language of “I May Destroy You,” that sexuality and that physicality. And Michaela is switched on, so she wants the actors on her show to feel safe.

We see Kwame have lots of consensual, seemingly fulfilling hookups before the one that becomes an assault.

Really the provocation is about the world at large rather than his lifestyle choices. I think it’s important to underline that.

Let’s not use this show as a way of making the political point of what we could be in some fantasy. Let’s live in the real world and allow people to be real and get messed up and be horny. Why should we look the other way?



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‘Hamilton’ and the Historical Record: Frequently Asked Questions


When “Hamilton” premiered onstage in 2015, the musical attracted a big following among historians, who were delighted by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s unabashedly nerdy attention to primary documents and the scholarly literature.

But historians being historians, they also offered plenty of footnotes, criticisms and correctives, which weren’t always appreciated by the show’s ardent fans, who saw a bunch of humorless, literal-minded scolds out to kill their buzz.

Now, with the filmed version streaming on Disney+, the critical questions about Alexander Hamilton and the show’s depiction of him are back, and they aren’t just coming from the ivory tower.

On Friday, the director Ava DuVernay tweeted her appreciation for Miranda’s artistry, along with a blast at the real-life A.Ham, who was not the progressive paragon of multicultural democracy some who watch the show may assume.

“Believed in manumission, not abolition,” she wrote. “Wrote violent filth about Native people. Believed in only elites holding political power and no term limits. And the banking innovation has troubled roots.”

Historians, many of whom took part in a Twitter watch party under the hashtag #HATM (Historians at the Movies), took a generally milder tone, even as they reiterated some of their earlier caveats. Here’s what some of them have been saying about “Hamilton” — and Hamilton — since Miranda’s take on the “ten-dollar founding father” took America by storm.

Hamilton wasn’t an abolitionist? I’m confused.

Early in the show, Hamilton calls himself and his friends “revolutionary manumission abolitionists,” a line that raised a lot of eyebrows among scholars.

Hamilton was genuinely antislavery, even if some scholars say the intensity of his opposition has been overstated. He was a founding member of the New York Manumission Society, created in 1785, which among other things, pushed for a gradual emancipation law in New York State. (Such a law was passed in 1799.)

Manumission involved voluntary release by enslavers. Abolition was a more radical proposition, and Hamilton did not advocate it. And while he publicly criticized Thomas Jefferson’s views on the biological inferiority of Black people, the Harvard historian Annette Gordon-Reed has noted that his record and his writings from the 1790s until his death in 1804 include little to nothing against slavery.

As the show indicates, Hamilton did support John Laurens’s 1779 plan to allow Black soldiers to fight in the Revolution (and many eventually did). But that’s as far as he went.

“OK, Hamilton did not write pamphlets against slavery with Laurens,” Gordon-Reed tweeted during the #HATM watch party, adding: “I hate to be that historian.”

So which characters in the show owned slaves?

Most of them, actually. In one of the Cabinet rap battles, Jefferson extols the South’s agrarian economy, and Hamilton slaps back. “Yeah, keep ranting. We know who’s really doing the planting,” he sneers, dismissing Jefferson’s argument as “a civics lesson from a slaver.”

But slavery was hardly just a Southern affair. In 1790, about 40 percent of households immediately around New York City included enslaved people. Most of Hamilton’s associates who toast freedom early in the show were slaveowners, including Aaron Burr and Hercules Mulligan (whose enslaved servant Cato worked alongside him in an anti-British spy ring).

The Schuylers, the prominent family Hamilton marries into, were major slaveholders. In fact, the mayor of Albany announced last month that the city would remove a statue of Philip Schuyler, Hamilton’s father-in-law, who at various points owned as many as 27 slaves.

Angelica Schuyler and her husband also owned slaves, and Hamilton, who was a lawyer, helped them with their slavery-related transactions, including the $225 purchase of a mother and child.

Wait. Did Hamilton himself own slaves?

Possibly. When his mother died in 1768, she left Hamilton and his brother an enslaved boy but they were not able to inherit since they had been born out of wedlock.

And there is some documentation suggesting that Hamilton may have owned slaves later, after his marriage to Elizabeth Schuyler. The historian Michelle DuRoss, in a 2010 paper, noted that Hamilton’s grandson had said Hamilton owned slaves, citing references in family ledgers.

But the evidence is ambiguous. Ankeet Ball, in a paper for the Columbia & Slavery research project, noted an 1804 letter from Angelica Schuyler regretting that Elizabeth and Alexander did not have any enslaved servants to help them with a party.

Ball, echoing many other scholars, pointed out that Hamilton, however much he may have hated slavery, acquiesced to it. “Hamilton ultimately accepted protecting slavery in the Constitution to solidify the union of the North and the South, which was crucial to the financial growth that Hamilton envisioned,” Ball wrote.

Was Hamilton pro-immigrant?

“Immigrants, we get the job done,” sung by Hamilton (who was born in Nevis) and the Marquis de Lafayette during the Battle of Yorktown, quickly emerged as one of the biggest applause lines in the show. And while Hamilton, as a subject of the British crown moving from one British colony to another, was not an immigrant in the contemporary sense, he did see himself (and was sometimes seen by others) as an outsider.

But his views of immigrants and how they fit into America were complicated. As the historian Joanne Freeman has pointed out, he wanted immigrant workers to fuel the manufacturing economy he envisioned, but he worried about their impact on the nation.

In 1798, in the middle of naval hostilities with revolutionary France, Hamilton and other Federalists supported the Alien and Sedition Acts, which extended the length of time immigrants had to wait to apply for citizenship and allowed the president to deport immigrants deemed “enemies.”

Backlash against the laws, which were designed to weaken Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party, contributed to Jefferson’s victory in 1800. After the election, when Jefferson proposed loosening citizenship requirements, Professor Freeman wrote, “Hamilton protested, fretting about the corruption of national character.” He even suggested that if only “native citizens” had been allowed to vote, Jefferson would not have become president.

But Hamilton, who started out as a penniless orphan, was a champion of the little guy, right?

Even before the musical (and the Ron Chernow biography that inspired it), Hamilton had a resurgence of popularity, driven in part by conservatives and centrists who saw him as an avatar of capitalism and a strong national government.

And Hamilton, many historians have pointed out, was hardly an up-by-the-bootstraps populist. He was an unabashed elitist who had proposed that senators serve for life and the president be an “elective monarch.” He also had a sometimes iffy relationship with representative democracy.

Hamil-skeptics point to episodes like the Newburgh Conspiracy of 1783, when forces within the Continental Army who were frustrated over lack of pay and other issues argued that the army should challenge the authority of Congress. In a confidential letter, Hamilton, then a congressman, urged George Washington to “take the direction of” the army’s grievances, without appearing to — advice some scholars have interpreted as urging a military coup.

Later, Hamilton dreamed of invading Florida and Louisiana (which were still under the control of Spain). He even floated the idea of deploying the army to Virginia to crush political opposition. And then there’s his (likely apocryphal) quotation, relayed by Henry Adams (the great-grandson of his nemesis John Adams): “Your people sir — your people is a great beast.”

Sheesh, chill out. “Hamilton” is a work of fiction, right?

The renewed critical commentary on Hamilton the man has prompted no shortage of eye-rolling, including from some historians. “Guys, I don’t think that’s how the Battle of Yorktown really went,” the historian Kevin Gannon tweeted during the #HATM watch. “I mean, I’m sure there was at least one more unit of dancers.”

For some historians, one of the most thrilling things about the show is the way it plays with the tension between history and memory, the biases of sources and the importance of who tells the story. And Miranda’s musical, for all its phenomenal success, may not have the last word.

One of the last times A.Ham was prominently on Broadway, in Sidney Kingsley 1943 play “The Patriots,” America was deep in a global fight for democracy. Hamilton wasn’t a populist hero, but a borderline fascist trying to impose a moneyed aristocracy on America. Jefferson, with his vision of self-governing common folk, was the champion of democracy.

The next time around, who knows?





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Broadway Actor Nick Cordero Dead at 41 of Coronavirus


Nick Cordero, a musical theater actor whose intimidating height and effortless charm brought him a series of tough-guy roles on Broadway, died on Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 41.

His death was announced on Instagram by his wife, Amanda Kloots. The couple, who moved from New York to Los Angeles last year, have a 1-year-old son, Elvis.

“My darling husband passed away this morning,” she wrote. “He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth.”

She did not cite a cause, but he had been hospitalized for three months after contracting the coronavirus.

Mr. Cordero’s experience with the virus, which included weeks in a medically induced coma and the amputation of his right leg, was chronicled by Ms. Kloots on Instagram.

Mr. Cordero’s big break came in 2014, when he played Cheech, a gangster with a fondness for theater and a talent for tap who was the highlight of a musical adaptation of “Bullets Over Broadway.” The role won him a Tony nomination.

“Mr. Cordero never pushes for effect, even when he’s leading a homicidal dance number to ‘’Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness if I Do,’” the critic Ben Brantley wrote in his New York Times review. “And somehow, this dopey, mass-murdering thug and the actor playing him stand out as being far more endearingly earnest than anybody else.”

He went on to play the abusive husband of the title character in “Waitress” and a mentoring mobster in “A Bronx Tale.”

“The terrific Mr. Cordero radiates a cool charisma that mixes a surface geniality with shrugging ruthlessness,” the critic Charles Isherwood wrote of “A Bronx Tale” in The Times.

Mr. Cordero fell ill on March 20 with what was initially diagnosed as pneumonia and later as Covid-19, Ms. Kloots said in a series of Instagram posts.

For weeks, he was kept alive with extensive treatment, including the use of a ventilator, dialysis and a specialized heart-lung bypass machine; he endured brief heart stoppage, minor heart attacks and sepsis, Ms. Kloots said, as well as the leg amputation and a tracheotomy.

As he remained unresponsive, she began daily playing a song that he had written, “Live Your Life,” and encouraging others to do so as well.

Many people joined in online, sharing videos of themselves singing and dancing as they tried to encourage his recovery with the hashtag #WakeUpNick. Alumni of musicals including “Waitress,” “Good Vibrations” and “Rock of Ages” recorded online performances for him, as did a group of musicians led by Constantine Maroulis and Steven Van Zandt.

“We sang it to him today, holding his hands,” Ms. Kloots said in her Instagram post announcing his death. She said that as she sang the words “They’ll give you hell but don’t you let them kill your light/Not without a fight” from the song’s final verse, “I smiled because he definitely put up a fight. I will love you forever and always my sweet man.”

The actor Zach Braff, in whose guesthouse Ms. Kloots has been living with her family while Mr. Cordero was hospitalized, said on Twitter: “I have never met a kinder human being. Don’t believe that Covid only claims the elderly and infirm.” Mr. Braff, Mr. Cordero’s co-star in “Bullets Over Broadway,” added, “I am so grateful for the time we had.”

Ms. Kloots’s frequent updates on Instagram, interspersed with short video clips from well-wishers, periodically had encouraging news; on April 24, Ms. Kloots said that Mr. Cordero had two negative Covid-19 tests.

“We think the virus is out of his system, and now we’re just dealing with recovery and getting his body back from all the repercussions of the virus,” she said. And on May 12, she said he had woken up after the lengthy medically induced coma.

But he continued to battle a lung infection, and by May 20 she told her followers that “unfortunately things are going a little downhill at the moment” and asked for prayers.

In recent weeks, he had been able to respond to some communication with his eyes but remained immobile, according to his wife.

Nicholas Eduardo Alberto Cordero was born on Sept. 17, 1978, in Hamilton, Ontario. His parents were both teachers — his father, Eduardo, was originally from Costa Rica, and his mother, Lesley, from Ontario.

A drama kid who performed frequently as an adolescent in shows at school and local theaters, he attended Ryerson University in Toronto to study acting but dropped out to join a band called Love Method.

His professional acting career began with “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” in Toronto, followed by a two-year stint working on cruise ships.

In 2007 he moved to New York, and by 2008 the 6-foot-5 performer was starring in a small musical called “The Toxic Avenger,” first in New Jersey, and then Off Broadway.

“Mr. Cordero morphs convincingly from supernerd to slime-dripping hulk, retaining traces of geekery that glimmer appealingly from under the neon-green gunk,” Mr. Isherwood wrote.

After a period of unemployment, he was cast in the national tour of “Rock of Ages,” and then in 2012 he joined the Broadway cast of that long-running show; another stretch of joblessness prompted him to consider a career in real estate.

But then he landed his breakout role in “Bullets Over Broadway.” It was also there that he met Ms. Kloots, who was a dancer in the ensemble.

In Los Angeles this year, he returned to a familiar show reconceived for a new setting, appearing in a bar-based version of “Rock of Ages,” staged in a nightclub.

In a 2014 interview, he reflected on the challenge of finding his way into the roles coming his way.

“The producer kept telling me, ‘Get tough. Get mean. Get angry,’ ” he said. “But I’m a nice guy. I’m Canadian.”





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Dulce Nunes, Bossa Nova Star of the 1960s, Dies at 90


This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Dulce Nunes seemed poised to become a movie star, with her face plastered on the cover of national magazines and a high-profile marriage to one of Brazilian cinema’s leading men. But instead she took a detour into singing, releasing a trio of popular albums in the 1960s that capitalized on the surging popularity of bossa nova.

Ms. Nunes died on June 4 in a Rio de Janeiro hospital. The cause was Covid-19, her cousin Sergio Bressane said. She was 90.

Ms. Nunes appeared in magazine ads for cigarettes and a textile company, made several films in her early 20s and found a place in the society pages thanks to her storybook marriage. The public eagerly awaited her next film. She chose instead to study guitar.

Ms. Nunes is best known for the 1964 album that launched her singing career, “Poor Little Rich Girl,” with songs arranged by Antonio Carlos Jobim from a musical by Vinicius de Moraes, who wrote the book, and Carlos Lyra, who composed the music — three of the biggest names in bossa nova, which combined samba rhythms with jazz.

A year later, Ms. Nunes released her first solo record, “Dulce,” featuring compositions by up-and-coming bossa nova composers including Mr. Jobim. In 1967 she came out with her only other solo recording: “Writers’ Samba,” in which she sang her own settings of contemporary Brazilian poetry.

That same year, she married Egberto Gismonti, her ex-husband’s nephew, who went on to become a successful musician in his own right. The couple divorced in 1976 but Ms. Nunes continued to sing on Mr. Gismonti’s records into the early 1990s.

Dulce Pinto Bressane was born on June 11, 1929, in Rio de Janeiro to Fernando Bressane, a merchant, and Euridyce de Oliveira Pinto, a painter. She grew up in an unconventional family, where the women worked, smoked and associated with the city’s bohemian set.

Ms. Dulce was expelled from a prestigious Rio Catholic school for bad behavior and she began acting while still in her teens. She would complain about how all the male leads tended to be older, but then married one of them: the actor, composer, pianist and notorious lady’s man Bené Nunes, in 1956. The couple separated in 1963 but remained close until his death in 1997.

Ms. Nunes’ first film, “Woman From Afar,” came out in 1949 and in 1950 she appeared in two more: “Morning Star” and “My Wife’s Fiancé.” Her last role was in the 1967 film “The ABC of Love.”

Ms. Nunes is survived by her sisters, Heloisa Bressane Neno Rosa and Amélia Bressane Pontes.

In the early 1990s, Ms. Nunes began working as an interior designer, spending her final years in Rio’s beachside Ipanema district.



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How a Brooklyn Artist Is Making Black Women Her Focus


The faces of the women in her portraits are often partly covered by a mask tied behind their heads, tugging at braids, low buns or tufts of curls. They are dressed in uniforms that show their essential jobs, but their style and charisma shine through their everyday armor.

They are Black women who work in jobs that the coronavirus pandemic quickly revealed as essential to the functioning of New York City. And they were all drawn by Aya Brown, 24, a Brooklyn artist. They are women who took care of Ms. Brown during a hospital or a supermarket visit. They include janitors, M.T.A. workers, mail carriers and security guards.

The drawings — made with color pencils on brown paper — comprise Ms. Brown’s Essential Worker series, a collection drawn with an intimacy that makes the viewers feel as if they too know the subject. It’s not just their jobs that are depicted through the lines and colors, but their panache.

“My goal is to uplift Black women who look like me and inspire me — to give them a space to be seen and to bring awareness to them,” Ms. Brown said.

Women have been the heroes of the pandemic. They are in the emergency rooms, on the streets delivering packages, in nursing homes, on construction sites, and many are still teaching their students who have been attending school from home.

One in three of the jobs held by women is essential, according to a New York Times analysis of census data crossed with the federal government’s essential worker guidelines. Most of the women who have essential jobs are women of color.

“I guess when you think about essential workers, you don’t really think of yourself,” said Aja Brown, 26, Ms. Brown’s sister and a subject of one of her portraits.

Aja is a paraprofessional educator, a role similar to a teacher’s aide, and works with fifth graders in Brooklyn. She has been working from home since the city closed schools in March. She never considered herself an essential worker until she saw her sister’s portrait of her on Instagram. The portrait made her cry, she said.

“I don’t know if I needed that space,” Aja said. “I just want my kids to get where they need to be emotionally and academically. I kind of don’t really think about myself.”

Ms. Brown aims to change that thinking, to help Black women see themselves as essential by putting them at the center of her artwork and bringing the viewer into her universe.

“It’s very clear how close she is to her mainstream, how unfiltered her perspective is and how much she loves her people and her village,” said Tamara P. Carter, a writer and director of the upcoming TV show “Freshwater.”

After being furloughed by her employer, Gavin Brown Enterprises, where she organized events, Ms. Brown has used her free time to delve into her art, which focuses on showing Black queer women fully: their sexuality, strength, style, bodies, joy and edge. Even the materials she uses are intentional: She draws on brown paper, she said, because “Black bodies do not need to start from white.”

Occasionally, she hosts parties that are meant to provide a safe space for Black lesbians, like herself. It is the kind of support Ms. Brown was entrenched in growing up in Brooklyn, and a foundation that was notably missing when she attended Cooper Union, a private college in Manhattan. She said her experience there was traumatic, that she did not feel as if her blackness was accepted. After three years, she dropped out in 2017.

“They made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be there,” Ms. Brown said.

She began her Essential Worker series in April, after a trip to the emergency room. There she noticed that her nurse, a Black, West Indian woman, took care of her while her doctor stopped by intermittently.

“I noticed that nurses in the E.R. are usually Black women,” Ms. Brown said. “I am thinking about these Black women on the front lines. It just bothered me because no one is noticing this.”

A few months later, out of work because of the pandemic and with not much to do, she began to develop her Essential Workers series.

Brittany Tabor, 29, one of Ms. Brown’s subjects, has been a store director at a Target in Brooklyn for six years.

“You never knew you were essential until Covid hit,” Ms. Tabor said, “and it’s like, I have to stand up for the community now. I didn’t realize all that we do.”

Like countless Black women around the country, Ms. Tabor had to be a counselor for her staff during the pandemic. When someone lost a family member or a neighbor, she tried to put them at ease.

“I needed them to know, ‘I am in it with you, and let’s get through this together,’ ” Ms. Tabor said. “But I was freaking out, too. I was human with everyone else. I was just able to put on a different hat.”

Black women are also underrepresented in the worlds of art and media, and Black queer women are nearly nonexistent in museums, according to Chaédria LaBouvier, the curator of “Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story,” at the Guggenheim Museum.

“It is disgusting in a really violent and indifferent way,” Ms. LaBouvier said. “There is no excuse, and even Black curators can be complicit in perpetuating that.”

Ms. LaBouvier said Ms. Brown’s work is not about being left out of the white, heterosexual, patriarchal art world, but about the Black working class saying, “I am already the center, and there is a lot of beauty here.”

Ms. Brown’s work “looks at what liberation actually could be,” Ms. LaBouvier said. “You’re in a moment where queer women are saying, ‘It is so much bigger than fitting into the system; let’s abolish the system.’”

According to Ms. Carter, when we look back on this moment in history and wonder who saved New York City from the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Brown’s portraits will provide the answer.

“Who she’s making the art for seems to be just as important as the art itself,” Ms. Carter said. “Art made with that kind of love and rigor is self-evident and can’t be co-opted.”



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Charlie Daniels, Who Bridged Country and Rock, Dies at 83


NASHVILLE — Charlie Daniels, the singer, songwriter and bandleader who was a force in both country and rock for decades, bringing a brash, down-home persona and blazing fiddle work to hits like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died on Monday in Nashville. He was 83.

His publicist announced the death, at Summit Medical Center in the Hermitage section of the city, saying the cause was a hemorrhagic stroke.

Mr. Daniels made his first mark as a session musician in the late 1960s and early ’70s, playing guitar, bass, fiddle and banjo on Nashville recordings by Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Leonard Cohen. He also produced albums for the Youngbloods, including the group’s 1969 folk-rock touchstone, “Elephant Mountain.”

But his greatest acclaim came as the leader of the Charlie Daniels Band, a country-rock ensemble that hosted the Volunteer Jam, the freewheeling Southern music festival, established in 1974, that featured Roy Acuff, Stevie Ray Vaughn, James Brown and the Marshall Tucker Band.

Modeled after the Allman Brothers, another regular act at the Jam, Mr. Daniels’s band used dual lead guitarists and dual drummers in the service of an expansive improvisational sound that included elements of country, blues, bluegrass, rock and Western swing.

Formed in 1971, the Charlie Daniels Band earned a reputation early on for recording material of an outspoken countercultural bent, much of it written by Mr. Daniels.

“I ain’t askin’ nobody for nothin’/If I can’t get it on my own,” Mr. Daniels asserted in a gruff drawl on the chorus of “Long Haired Country Boy,” from 1975. “If you don’t like the way I’m livin’/You just leave this long haired country boy alone.”

His plucky attitude assumed mythical proportions with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” a No. 1 country single, and Top 10 pop hit, from 1979 in which Mr. Daniels’s protagonist goes head-to-head with Satan in a fiddle contest and prevails. The recording appeared on the multiplatinum-selling album “Million Mile Reflections” and won a Grammy Award for best country vocal.

Mr. Daniels’s penchant for championing the underdog, coupled with his band’s constant touring, won him a devoted following, including the admiration of President Jimmy Carter, who invited the Charlie Daniels Band to perform at his 1977 inaugural ball.

Mr. Daniels’s persona and politics grew more patriotic and strident as the ’70s gave way to the ’80s, beginning with “In America,” a Top 20 pop hit written in response to the Iran hostage crisis of 1980. “Simple Man,” a No. 2 country single in 1990, called for the lynching of drug dealers and sex offenders, while “(What the World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks,” also from 1990, ran counter to the hippie nonconformity of his early hits.

“If I come across an issue, or something I feel strongly about, and I happen to think of a song that would go in that direction, then I do it,” Mr. Daniels said, discussing how he came to write “Simple Man,” in an online interview. “But that’s not what I start out, necessarily, to do.”

Such disavowals notwithstanding, Mr. Daniels proved to be anything but reluctant to share his increasingly right-wing views, especially on the Soap Box section of the Charles Daniels Band website, where he would pontificate on the Second Amendment, patriotism and other issues, and his 1993 book, “Ain’t No Rag: Freedom, Family and the Flag.”

In 2003 he published “An Open Letter to the Hollywood Bunch” in defense of President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy.

“You people need to get out of Hollywood once in a while and get out into the real world,” he wrote. “You’d be surprised at the hostility you would find out here. Stop in at a truck stop and tell an overworked, long distance truck driver that you don’t think Saddam Hussein is doing anything wrong.”

Charles Edward Daniels was born on Oct. 28, 1936, in Wilmington, N.C. His mother, LaRue (Hammonds), was a homemaker and his father, William Carlton Daniels, was a lumberjack who played fiddle and guitar. Mr. Daniels followed suit, learning to play both instruments while in school, before forming his own group, the Jaguars, in the late 1950s. He had begun writing songs by this point, including “It Hurts Me,” a collaboration with Joy Byers that was the B-side of Elvis Presley’s Top 40 hit “Kissin’ Cousins” in 1964.

Mr. Daniels disbanded the Jaguars and moved to Nashville in 1967 at the urging of the producer Bob Johnston, with whom he immediately established a successful career as a session musician. Among the albums on which he appeared were Mr. Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” and Mr. Cohen’s “Songs of Love and Hate,” both produced by Mr. Johnston.

Mr. Daniels made his first record under his own name in 1970, a self-titled solo album for Capitol Records that did not go anywhere. He and his band later signed with the Kama Sutra label, where they recorded “Uneasy Rider,” before finding a long-term home with Epic Records in 1975. Over the next two decades they recorded more than two dozen singles that hit the country chart, four of which, including “The Devil” and “In America,” crossed over to the pop Top 40.

In 1997, after a brief stint with Warner Bros. Nashville, Mr. Daniels founded Blue Hat Records, an independent label with an exclusive distribution arrangement with Walmart.

His numerous honors included the Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music in 1998 and the BMI Icon Award at the 53rd annual Country Music Awards in 2005. He joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the same year that he celebrated his 50th anniversary in the music business. In 2016, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Hazel Juanita Alexander Daniels, and their son, Charles William Daniels Jr.

In 2014 Mr. Daniels paid tribute to his early days as a sideman with Mr. Dylan with a cover album of Mr. Dylan’s songs titled, “Off the Grid: Doin’ It Dylan.” Mr. Daniels remembered this period fondly, describing it as “loose, free and, most of all, fun” in a 2015 interview with The Tennessean.

Mr. Dylan recalled a similar affinity in his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles.” “I felt I had a lot in common with Charlie,” he wrote. “When Charlie was around, something good would usually come out of the sessions.”

Julia Carmel contributed reporting.



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University of Kentucky Is Sued Over Mural With Slavery Scene


For years, there has been a simmering debate over what to do with a New Deal-era mural at the University of Kentucky that students have denounced as a racist sanitizing of history and a painful reminder of slavery in a public setting.

The wall-length mural, a 1934 fresco by Ann Rice O’Hanlon, is covered with vignettes that are intended to illustrate Kentucky’s history. At the center of the mural is an image of enslaved people tending to tobacco plants, and at the bottom, there is a Native American man holding a tomahawk and peering out from behind a tree at a white woman as if poised for attack.

Since 2015, university administrators have tried to find a resolution that doesn’t involve removing the mural. But last month, as many predominantly white institutions in the United States were being forced to answer for their history of racism in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, decided that it was time for the mural to come down.

It’s a familiar conflict at a time of intense conversations about racial injustice across the country. Some want to see the mural removed, asserting that its depiction of violence against Black people has no place in a space where students attend class or celebratory events, while others counter that hiding it would amount to artistic censorship and an obscuring of the state’s history of slavery and racism.

Now, Wendell Berry — the writer, farmer and longtime Kentuckian — is suing the university over its decision to remove the mural, arguing that because it was created through a government program, it is owned by the people of Kentucky and cannot be removed by the university. (Mr. Berry knew the artist of the mural through his wife, who is a niece of Ms. O’Hanlon. Mr. Berry’s wife, Tanya Berry, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.)

Mr. Berry said that they are also trying to prevent the potential removal of another work, one by a Black artist, Karyn Olivier, that was commissioned by the university and installed in the same campus building in 2018 in response to the mural. Ms. Olivier’s work, called “Witness,” reproduces the likenesses of the Black and Native American people in the mural and positions them on a dome covered with gold leaf so they appear to be floating like celestial beings. The dome is in the vestibule of the building just in front of the room where the mural covers the wall.

But if the university follows through with removing the mural, Ms. Olivier said, she would like her work to come down too.

“My work is dependent on that history,” Ms. Olivier said in an interview. She said the decision to “censor” the 1934 mural would amount to censorship of her own work.

At the center of the Berrys’ lawsuit is the argument that the mural is held in trust by the university, on behalf of the public, and that university officials are not allowed to take an action that is counter to the original intent of the work. Anti-censorship advocates are playing close attention and say that what happens here could influence conversations in cities around the country about contested murals.

“We’re afraid that the University of Kentucky may set off a domino effect,” said Christopher Finan, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, which is supporting Ms. Olivier’s effort to preserve her work.

In a statement responding to the lawsuit, a spokesman for the University of Kentucky, Jay Blanton, said that moving art is “not erasing history.”

“It is, rather, creating context to further dialogue as well as space for healing,” he said.

As monuments honoring the Confederacy and white political leaders with racist pasts have drawn calls for removal in recent years, so have New Deal-era murals.

The controversy in Lexington, Ky., is similar to one at a San Francisco high school, where a series of murals depicting the life of George Washington upset students and parents because they showed scenes of slaves at work in the fields and barns of Washington’s Mount Vernon and, in one, Washington pointing westward over the dead body of a Native American man. In 2019, the San Francisco Board of Education voted to conceal, but not destroy, the Depression-era murals; the high school’s alumni association later sued, and there has not yet been a final conclusion in the legal battle.

Ms. O’Hanlon’s mural was commissioned by the Public Works of Art Project, an early New Deal program during President Roosevelt’s administration that sought to put unemployed artists to work by asking them to create art for public buildings. The roughly 40-foot mural at the University of Kentucky sprawls across a wall in a building, Memorial Hall, which is used for classes, lectures and other public events.

The mural is meant to show the history of the state, from the cabin-building of white settlers at the bottom of the fresco up to the theatergoing and carriage-riding Kentuckians at the top. At the center of the mural, four enslaved people bend over tobacco plants. Above them, a group of Black people stand near the train, segregated from the white people nearby. To the left of them, Black people play a guitar, harmonica and banjo for dancing white men and women.

In 2015, students of color at the University of Kentucky raised objections to the mural directly with the university’s president, Eli Capilouto, and the university responded by covering up the fresco with white cloth while they considered what to do in the longer term.

Mr. Capilouto wrote at the time that he had been moved by accounts from Black students who resented the mural on a very personal level.

“One African-American student recently told me that each time he walks into class at Memorial Hall he looks at the Black men and women toiling in tobacco fields and receives the terrible reminder that his ancestors were enslaved, subjugated by his fellow humans,” he wrote. “Worse still, the mural provides a sanitized image of that history.”

In 2016, the university announced that it would uncover the mural but would surround it “with other works of art from a variety of perspectives that provide a larger narrative of our history.” The university selected a proposal from Ms. Olivier, and the artwork was installed in 2018, covering the inside of the dome at the entry of Memorial Hall. It puts the Black and Native figures from Ms. O’Hanlon’s mural in a different context: the people at the train station, the musicians, the people working the field, all floating in the dome’s sparkling gold background, which Ms. Olivier chose as a gesture to the gold leaf seen in churches and sacred paintings.

Ms. Olivier’s work also includes portraits of figures from Kentucky’s history, including Georgia Davis Powers, the first Black person to serve in the State Senate, and Charlotte Dupuy, an enslaved woman who filed a lawsuit against her master, Henry Clay, who was then the secretary of state, seeking freedom. And around the dome’s base, there’s a quotation from Frederick Douglass: “There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.”

Still, students continued to object to the 1934 mural, and last year, students with the Black Student Advisory Council staged a sit-in at a campus building, demanding that the mural be taken down.

“It’s not something that the University of Kentucky’s students are willing to put up with anymore,” said Tsage Douglas, then the president of the advisory council, to the university president at the time, according to an article in the student-run newspaper.

Ms. Douglas, who was also the president of the Black Student Union, argued in an op-ed in the newspaper last year that the mural still needed to go. She wrote, “Taking down and completely removing the mural is not with the purpose of destroying art or covering up necessary conversations, but with the intent of giving Black students room to heal.”

Now that the university has decided to take down the 1934 mural, Ms. Olivier feels as if her own artwork is being “hung out to dry.” She said that she heard about the plan to remove the work just as the rest of the public did, without any heads-up from the university.

Ms. Olivier said that she saw her work as the beginning of a concerted effort to use the art in Memorial Hall as a site of learning, a place for panel discussions and seminars and conversations about the history depicted in the 1934 mural. But she said that the university hasn’t put enough resources into those endeavors, and she argues that it is too soon to retreat from that original plan.

But in his announcement about the removal of the mural, Mr. Capilouto said that the university’s current efforts to ease the controversy without removing the mural have been a “roadblock to reconciliation.”

“The spaces we have created for dialogue, and the work we have commissioned to expand conversation and contextualize art, haven’t worked, frankly,” he wrote.

Since the fate of the mural was put in question in 2015, Mr. Berry, who attended the University of Kentucky in the 1950s, has spoken publicly about the situation and advocated for the mural to remain uncovered. He interprets the depiction of the enslaved people not as romanticized but as showing the “oppressive regimentation” of their lives, writing once that “the railroad, its cars filled with white passengers, seems to be borne upon the slaves’ bent backs.”

Mr. Berry, 85, said that he decided to file a lawsuit because he “didn’t know any other way to go” after the university abruptly announced that it would remove the mural. He also said he fears that trying to remove the artwork would either ruin it or be unnecessarily expensive.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in a Circuit Court in Frankfort, Ky., asks the court to prevent the university from removing the mural or Ms. Olivier’s accompanying piece.

“I don’t think that the president has the right to destroy any part of the commonwealth,” Mr. Berry said. “How soon do we get to the point where we just don’t want to have a past at all?”



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