One Year Later: a Black man’s perspective on the Capitol Attack 

Jan. 6, 2021, Trump Rally

Listen to Nehemiah Frank’s opinion piece here or read below. 


I will remember Jan 6, 2021, like I remember September 11, 2001. 

Republicans would hope that all would forget the day the leader of their political party incited a deadly riot at the US Capitol. 

Nevertheless, it’s hard for many of us to forget that kind of mesmerizing trauma.

Several hours of uncertainty, wondering if our Constitution would stand or bend the knee, arose a fear in many of us of the reality of how fragile America’s democracy actually is.

As a Black man, my anger wasn’t solely placed on Capitol rioters that day. 

I was bitter because Black people had just begun tasting the fruits of our advocacy. We turned a former confederate state blue and elected a Black man and a Jewish man to the U.S. Senate, sending deceased Klansmen turning in their graves. 

We did things the right way. 

We registered. 

We mailed in our absentee ballots. 

We stood hours in the rain, in the cold amid a global pandemic. 

We brought our IDs and voter cards to the polls as requested. 

Some of us caught Covid-19 and died ALL for a vote. 

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We voted for our sons and our daughters, and for our parents. 

We voted for our wrongfully accused incarcerated relatives.

We voted for John Lewis because he said our votes were the most powerful non-violent tool we have to create a more perfect union. 

We voted for our ancestors and our dignity to be counted and seen as five-fifths!

I muted the television to watch the drama unfold and wondered if the country had lost its soul. 

Notably, 56-years of voting rights is the measured space between Bloody Sunday and that Insurrection. Proof that the lesser of the Whites weren’t ready for the playing field to be leveled.

Consequently, our democratic win was met with assault rifles, nooses, confederate flags, and the n-word — draped in red, white, and blue, coupled with the Christian cross at the helm of the Republicans’ anti-other movement. 

Supporters of President Donald Trump

FILE – Supporters of President Donald Trump riot outside the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

While half the country admired our tremendous civic engagement progress, in contrast, the other half rebuked us by questioning the legitimacy of our Black votes.

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That Wednesday afternoon, I stared calmly at my television screen and smirked while many stood shaking with fear at the chaos and confusion. 

“There you are, America,” I uttered.

It had been six months since Trump threatened to take a selfie in my sacred community of Greenwood, the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race massacre. The level of his privilege stressed out my entire community that Juneteenth weekend of 2020. 

Nehemiah Frank and David McIntyre II

Nehemiah Frank (l.), teaches his cousin David McIntye II about the Tulsa Race Massacre in the Greenwood district on May 28.
BRANDON BELL/GETTY IMAGES

Having experienced the worst race massacre against Black lives in US history, we descendants of a domestic racial terror that left 36 square blocks of our community battered, charred, and 300 massacred, had grown accustomed to White men steamrolling their power over what rights we managed to attain for ourselves. 

Hence, January 6, 2021, came as no shock to us. 

And none of us were surprised when White liberals gave insurrectionists a slap on the wrists in the form of light sentencing and called it justice.

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Being soft on white supremacy has always been America’s greatest weakness. It’s why confederate statues are just coming down 155 years after the Civil War. 

Like the architects who destroyed Black Wall Street weren’t held accountable, not one senior member of the Republican Party has been sentenced for an attempted coup on the US government.

This is not a revelation. This is America, a country that will throw a Black man in prison for life without due process and zero evidence, while simultaneously allowing White people who committed treason on live television the right to maintain their citizenship. 

What else is there left to debate or say? 

But, this is who America was and still remains. 

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1 comment

Most Americans believe another attack like January 6th is imminent January 6, 2022 - 11:34 am

[…] been one year since the attempted insurrection claimed five lives and shook the core of the nation. Rather than coalesce as a country around never […]

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