Making The Capitol Insurrection A Teachable Moment

The sounds of Texas.

By Joy Díaz & Caroline CovingtonJanuary 14, 2021 1:36 pm, , , ,

Following last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, three Texas teachers had to find a way to explain the historic event to their students.

Kevin Gillion Teaches Spanish In Austin

a portrait of a man in a maroon shirt

Spanish teacher Kevin Gillion.

“My classes are predominantly white students. The truth that I spoke was that this is not about right versus left; it’s about right versus wrong.”


“There were several students who challenged my making the comparison between Black Lives Matter and what happened. … I want everybody just to feel like this is a conversation-starter debate. My Latino students and my Black students all spoke. I think that teachers have a lot more power than we realize, sometimes, as far as how we can make our classrooms and environments that are welcoming.”


“My students of color were right out there speaking, and they were fearless and it was beautiful.”


Caryn Mackoff Teaches History In Austin

a portrait of a woman with her dog

History teacher Caryn Mackoff.

“Our student body is very diverse. We do have a large amount of students that are Black Americans or Hispanic or Latino. We had a question about the Confederate flag and why it was being raised inside our Capitol building. We had a couple of questions about some of the other flags that were maybe not as easy to decipher, such as the yellow flags that were being held and the different [iconography], I guess you would say, that appeared on their clothing.”


“There’s going to be so much more curiosity around these things. You know, it’s four years and they’re going to vote. Democracy is something that we have to work hard to maintain and achieve. And so if we’re not aware of our rights or our roles or our responsibilities, then can we really guard this democracy?”


Zach Wilson Teaches Government And Black Studies In San Antonio

a man standing above a canyon

Texas Teacher Zach Wilson

“I asked the students, ‘So, a person who does this, are they a protester? Are they a rioter? Are they an insurrectionist?’ And not a single one said, ‘Protester.'”


“Politically, they are pretty diverse. … What I got mostly from students was despair now that we know that white insurrectionists could attack the Capitol and they’d be allowed to do it because of the color of their skin.”


White privilege is that literal – that you don’t need to have a master’s degree and the ability to analyze systemic and structural data to understand that racism exists. So how does that impact me and my skin? But how does that impact the people that I love? It’s huge.”


I’d love for my students to kind of redefine what American culture is, and to make it a space of listening, and I can’t help but feel hopeful.


If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on and Thanks for donating today.