The January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol was outrageous—a planned assault on U.S. democracy and a global embarrassment. 

The Public Commentary Committee of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History therefore stands with many Americans and their representatives who call for the resignations of U.S. President Donald Trump and members of his cabinet. We also affirm the call for the expulsion of elected officials who were both complicit and culpable in the effort to destabilize the country’s government.  

President Trump incited white supremacist and nationalist groups to brazenly attack “the people’s house,” which resulted in loss of life, destruction of property, and yet another Trump-inspired stain on the American experiment. In those efforts, they confronted a Capitol Police force that was unprepared to meet the known threat, and who failed to execute the protocols for dealing with the violence which had been promised and communicated on social media for weeks. The treatment of those who laid siege on the Capitol contrasts sharply with the treatment of protesters, who during last summer, supported the idea that Black Lives Matter and who were brutalized, and tear-gassed and arrested on the spot. Race was obviously a determining factor in the difference between how the multi-racial, largely peaceful protesters were treated and the January 6 right-wing insurrectionists.

Though Trumpist mob violence is despicable and anti-democratic, we refuse to allow it to overshadow the significance of U.S. senatorial victories of the Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia. Their victories reflect the true spirit of democracy by people organizing peaceably for democratic social change. The Black women and men who headed the coalitions that led to the election of these two senators serve as models to the nation for effecting democratic change.  

The PCC firmly encourages our membership to call on their representatives to pursue the full prosecution of all persons responsible for the January 6 riotous attack on our country’s fractured and tenuous democracy and its revered symbols.  We also call on the incoming administration and the entire Congress to take necessary steps to ensure that the catastrophe of January 6, 2021 will not be replicated. 

ASALH’s Public Commentary Committee is charged with two tasks. The committee is in charge of drafting public statements on behalf of the executive board. These commentaries must be pertinent and relevant to the mission of ASALH.  Statements should be relevant and timely on issues of Black history and conditions of Black people or persons more generally and will be posted on the ASALH Website as the official commentary of the organization and/or submitted to the national media outlets as official commentary for discussion and debate. The second task of the Public Commentary Committee is rapid response to breaking news that affects the membership and chapters of our organization.