For additional resources on our response to the events of January 6, 2021, read Resources for Teaching After the Insurrection at the US Capitol.
On January 6, 2021, more than 2,000 people illegally broke into the US Capitol building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. The attack on the Capitol took place following a rally in which former president Trump and several other politicians spread false claims that the election was fraudulent. Five people died during or immediately after the attack.
Current research suggests that only around 10% of the participants in the insurrection had connections to extremist groups, such as the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers. According to a Washington Post analysis, “the vast majority of the roughly 650 people federally charged in the riot were not part of far-right groups or premeditated conspiracies to attack the Capitol. Rather, many were an array of everyday Americans that included community leaders, small-business owners, teachers and yoga instructors.”
This Teaching Idea asks students to consider why so many people, including those who apparently had no plans to commit violence, participated in the Capitol insurrection, and it invites students to reflect on how even seemingly small choices that individuals make can contribute to larger acts of injustice and violence.
Note: Depending on your students’ background knowledge on the insurrection, you may wish to begin with our Teaching Idea What Happened During the Insurrection at the US Capitol and Why? For more ideas on how to teach about the events of January 6, 2021, read our blog post Teaching about the January 6 Insurrection and its Impact on US Democracy and visit our featured collection Resources for Teaching After the Insurrection at the US Capitol.
What follows are teacher-facing instructions for the activities. Find student-facing instructions in the Google Slides for this Teaching Idea.