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5 People Who Should Be TIME’s Person Of The Year

Here’s our own personal short list

Person Of The Year

TIME’s Person Of The Year is the magazine’s annual tip-of-the-hat to the human, group, object, or concept that has most shifted reality during one of the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. This year has been a rollercoaster of change, none more important than the string of nationalist, populist leaders rising to power across the world. And TIME hasn’t shied away from controversial picks. The magazine has been known to choose a demagogue or two over the years.


This year, as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads the reader poll over at TIME.com, we’d like to take this opportunity to present you with the candidates we believe should be in the running for TIME’s Person Of The Year.

Standing Rock Protesters

A collection of tribes, military veterans, ordinary citizens, medical personnel, and artists have slowly joined the protest at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, had a plan and permits to run the pipeline through sacred lands and under the Missouri river, sparking protests of concern about potentially damaging the water supply of the surrounding region. A lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers followed. Then a counter suit by Dakota Access Pipeline, LLC. With protestors screaming “water is life,” the protests heated up and word started to get out about what was happening. A militarized police presence brought major social media attention to the situation; there were the dogs biting unarmed protesters and water cannons being used against the protestors in freezing cold temperatures. But the chanting, marching, and hoping paid off: the Army Corps of Engineers finally announced they’d halt construction to talk about rerouting the pipeline. While it’s not a total victory, the stoppage is great news for the protesters, who’ve sacrificed and suffered for their right to clean water.

Beyoncé Knowles

A Super Bowl show for the ages featured Afroed dancers, beset in black berets with rows of bullets coiled around their bodies, dancing in precision. It served to set the stage for Beyoncé’s opus, Lemonade, where she wove the societal betrayal of black women’s bodies into an anti-cheater's guide to love. The work served the gnawing hunger of her fan base and propelled her to even further acclaim. As the world’s most recognizable artist, she swings her narrative from pop infused down-for-my-man tales into the realm of a dense, artistic achievement that specifically tackles how we all consciously or unconsciously derail women. In a year filled with rabbit tricks, this just might be the rabbit trick of the year.

Robert Smith

After the unveiling of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, people were curious as to who Robert Smith, the reclusive entrepreneur donor, was. A billionaire and philanthropist, Mr. Smith gave $20 million to the Smithsonian, only bested by Oprah. His gift was enormous, but so was the mystery. A private equity financier, Smith built his $2.5 billion fortune financing tech firms throughout the world. As chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, Smith has kept his success and his philanthropy quiet. But the Cornell graduate’s Fund II Foundation is speaking loudly. He is the man behind Cornell’s School of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Diversity Initiative, recently giving his alma mater $50 million to establish an endowment which will help transform the school at all levels. A significant portion of the endowment goes to support underrepresented populations in engineering and technology, particularly black and female students. Smith is also the chairman of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.

Hillary Clinton

As the first female presidential nominee of a major party, Hillary Clinton did a lot of things right. In addition to being the Democratic presidential nominee, she won the majority vote by some 2.5 million votes. The former Secretary of State and senator from New York ran a compelling campaign, staggered by bitter sexism, fake news, wild assertions of voter fraud, and email scandals, which, in the end, obscured her candidacy—despite her overwhelming qualifications.

The Flint Whistleblowers

As of this writing, Flint has been embroiled in a water scandal that has spanned more than two years. At issue is the nature of Flint’s drinking water, which is contaminated with lead, E. Coli, and other life-threatening substances. A colossal failure at all levels, the decision to use the water from the Flint river has cost residents hundreds of thousands of dollars and has spread panic, stemming from the lead levels that were found. What’s worse is that it took local residents, Virginia Tech civil-engineering professor Marc Edwards, and pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha to blow it open.

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