Teaching Elections and Mob Violence in US History: ​A New Teaching Resource from ASHP/CML

January 27, 2021

American Social History Project/Center for Media Learning has developed a list of teaching resources and reflection questions to contextualize the recent attempted insurrection in Washington, DC, and connect it to broader themes and moments in US History.

On January 6, 2021, an angry mob stormed Washington, DC to stop the certification process of the recent presidential election and demand that the election results be overturned. Smaller groups of armed rioters also converged on state houses across the country. For months, this insurgency was incited by an angry president, mobilized through social media and an intense misinformation campaign. In addition to President Trump, many elected officials, including some members of Congress, also spread false information—and may have abetted the mob, too. Despite their claims that the election had been stolen from them, the rioters were not disenfranchised voters but individuals outraged that their chosen candidate lost.

The events of January 6 were exceptional, but they are connected to a long history of attempts to prevent the exercise of voting rights, particularly among African Americans and other people of color.

It will take years to fully understand exactly what happened and the impact of these events, but we hope the teaching materials that we have compiled offer a variety of ways to contextualize and understand the siege at the Capitol, including key definitions and concepts, the history of voter suppression and impeachment, the use of mob violence to block democratic processes and to assert white supremacy, and Washington, DC’s history as a site of violent protest.