An American Story
Many of the investigators and team leads on the January 6th Committee that investigated the insurrection were people of color. Their stories have never been heard before. We bring you the story of their leadership, and why their mix of lived experience as descendants of enslaved people; children of immigrants; or immigrants themselves deeply shaped the committee’s quest to protect and uphold a multiracial, pluralistic democracy.
In January 6th: An American Story, we show — through the eyes of the people of color helping to lead the committee — that January 6th is not over, and the ways we continue to make sense of its reverberations could save — or imperil — us all.
Episode 1: Legal Eagles
We meet the investigators on the January 6th committee who come from communities of color. Here, we learn the personal backstories of this extraordinary team of legal eagles, and how they contribute to their service and vision. We also get vivid descriptions about how they learned about the insurrection — the first time in US history that there was not a peaceful transfer of power of the presidency.
Episode 2: 187 Minutes
We are brought inside what it took to investigate January 6th — including the 187 minutes which shook the nation to the core. The investigators take listeners behind the scenes to show what went into the investigation and how a case was built against former President Donald Trump. With no room for error and a running clock, the pressure to make the case before nationally televised Prime Time hearings is an historic first.
Episode 3: America in Black and White
In this episode we go deep into race — into the ways that national security and public safety have been compromised by federal and law enforcement failures to recognize specific threats about the looming violence. “If people of color had posted on Parler these exact same words… would it have been perceived differently from those in law enforcement?” said investigator Soumya Dayananda.
Episode 4: The Book of Purple
The biggest revelation for our reporting team was finding out that there is an entirely different and largely unknown body of research that came out of the January 6th committee. Named “The Book of Purple” by purple team lead Candyce Phoenix, this is a trove of more than 50 documents from figures including former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. Collectively, they argue that a historical perspective on white supremacy and its threats to democracy, civil society, and national security is critical to understanding January 6 and preventing future insurrections.
Episode 5: The Lawmakers
In this episode, we turn our mics to the elected officials who ran the House committee. We speak with Chairman Bennie Thompson, who endured racial terrorism as he grew up in a small town in Mississippi… a town he went on to become the mayor of. His lived experience of racial terror informed the ways he ran the committee, and the way he sought consensus with Vice Chairman Liz Cheney.
Episode 6: Why January 6 Isn't Over
January 6th neither began nor ended on that date. The legal and moral implications of January 6th continue to this day; and also, the roots of the insurrection stretch back centuries, to the founding divides of this nation over race and religion. In the final episode of January 6: An American story we pull from our own show archives to bring you an overview of what the stakes are for American democracy today, from bestselling authors, counterterrorism experts, investigative reporters and academics.