In light of the January 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol, this op-ed argues that the humanities are crucial to an education that equips students for knowing, sharing, and passing on the essential values of our democracy. The assault on the capitol went beyond the problem of misinformation, but instead points to a deeper crisis in civic life and education. Taking seriously President James Madison's injunction that “a well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people" means making the humanities and the study of transformative texts central to education. A humanities education compels self-reflection, understanding of of others, and a meditation on civic life.