Preserving Democracy: Pursuing A More Perfect Union
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV / Watch now with the PBS App
The domestic assault on the Capitol complex on Jan. 6, 2021, stands out as one of the most shocking moments in American history. Incited by a sitting president, the riot caused the deaths of five people; 140 Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia officers and numerous civilians were injured; and a hole was torn in the democratic system the nation has nurtured for nearly 250 years. As the country continues to grapple with the activities of the insurrectionists and considers the lasting impact of this event, a new two-hour documentary examines the pursuit of democracy, within our nation and others, on the anniversary of the 2021 Capitol riot.
Narrated by Tamara Tunie (LAW AND ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, "Journal for Jordan," COWBOY BEBOP), “Preserving Democracy: Pursuing a More Perfect Union” chronicles the history of the democratic system from its origins to the present. It addresses political divisiveness and threats to democracy around the world, considering global progress as well as regression and offering reflections on lessons learned.
“The Capitol insurrection stunned our nation and shook the foundation of our government to its core,” said Dana Roberson, executive producer. “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.”
Providing robust historical context, “Preserving Democracy: Pursuing a More Perfect Union” chronicles changes in American ideas of democracy, from the American Revolution and the earliest days of the Republic through Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement and the suppression of the Black and Mexican American vote in the 1960s and 1970s.
The film tracks former President Barack Obama’s path to the presidency. It also explores how identity politics and changing ideologies across the country helped pave the way to the election of former President Donald Trump and the events that followed.
Moving beyond the 2021 Capitol riot, “Preserving Democracy: Pursuing a More Perfect Union” surveys the formation of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, and what the committee is seeking to uncover.
The film looks to the present and future, including the push to educate voters on shifting voting rights rules and the role of a civics curriculum in education to engage and foster an informed citizenry.
“Preserving Democracy: Pursuing a More Perfect Union” features interviews with political experts, activists, journalists and historians including:
- Adam Kinzinger (United States Representative for Illinois's 16th congressional district)
- Bill Moyers (former White House Press Secretary, journalist and political commentator)
- Valerie Jarrett (former Senior Advisor to the President of the United States)
- Janet Napolitano (former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security)
- Fiona Hill (Presidential Advisor and former official at the U.S. National Security Council)
- Robert Costa (journalist and author, "Peril")
- Jelani Cobb (writer, author and educator)
- Margaret Hoover (host of PBS’ FIRING LINE and author)
- Janai Nelson (Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.)
- Ramesh Ponnuru (political journalist)
- Steven Cook (Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations)
- Mutale Nkonde (Founding CEO of AI For the People)
- Alexis Coe (Presidential Historian and New York Times bestselling author)
- Marcia Chatelain (historian)
- Eric Foner (historian)
The special is part of our upcoming new multiplatform initiative, Preserving Democracy.
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The film premiered Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, at 9 p.m. on PBS, pbs.org/preservingdemocracy and the PBS App.
A production of The WNET Group. Dana Roberson is executive producer. Lesley Norman, Stephen Segaller and Neal Shapiro are executives-in-charge.