2022 is an election year in the U.S. and a period in which teachers can help students understand the political process and significance of voting. One way to deepen our understanding of voting rights is to consider the experiences of people who have been disenfranchised over the course of our nation’s history and into the present. The Black community is one that has faced immense barriers to voting, both in the distant past and even into the present. But Black people also continue to be pioneers in the movement to ensure that all Americans are able to exercise their right to vote.
As we mark the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, revelations from the ongoing congressional investigations are beginning to mount, raising fundamental questions about forces that may imperil U.S. democracy. This investigation has deepened widespread concerns about rising threats of fascism, racism, white nationalism, and other phenomena that undermine justice for all. But in analyses that focus primarily on the role of white nationalism fomented within media echo chambers, for example, commentators have overlooked what may be a more pervasive parallel phenomenon: the widespread crisis of faith in U.S. media and institutions at large. Though these dynamics were on display during the insurrection and in the coverage that followed, January 6th offers a rich case study for interrogating the complex role of media in shaping public opinion and how those opinions have become so wildly divergent. For educators tasked with the vital work of helping young people sift fact from fiction in the present information landscape, this anniversary also raises an important challenge to expand the scope of instruction on media literacy for young people.