'Preserving Democracy' documentary to air on anniversary of Capitol riot

Joshua Axelrod
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

One year ago Thursday, rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election. PBS will mark the occasion with a documentary that aims to discover how this country got to such a breaking point.

"Preserving Democracy: Pursuing a More Perfect Union" will air Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on PBS. It "chronicles the history of the democratic system from its origins to the present," according to a PBS press release. That includes going all the way back to the American Revolution and exploring other landmark moments including Reconstruction, the civil rights movement and the presidential paths of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

"Preserving Democracy" also delves into the formation of the U.S. House select committee to investigate the attack, which resulted in five deaths and at least 140 injuries. Among those interviewed for the documentary are Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Obama; Janet Napolitano, a former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security; and Fiona Hill, a former official at the U.S. National Security Council.

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Supporters of then-President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The documentary is narrated by actor Tamara Tunie.

"I was compelled to be a part of this important look at the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and its context, historically," Tunie told the Post-Gazette in a statement. "I was pleased to learn, during the recording of this documentary, that civics courses are being re-instituted in school curricula. We all need to understand how a democratic government is supposed to function."

Executive producer Dana Roberson the hope is that "Preserving Democracy" will inspire viewers to take a more active role in maintaining the United States' democratic ideals.

"The Capitol insurrection stunned our nation and shook the foundation of our government to its core," Roberson said in a press release. "Through this documentary, we encourage people to think critically about the future of our nation and the role we each play in preserving our democracy."