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The duo won the honor "for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world," said the magazine.

Rachel Simon
Dec 11, 2020 @ 10:16 am
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Credit: Andrew Harnik, Getty Images

Every year, Time magazine names a Person of the Year, a title given to the individual (or individuals) who had the biggest influence on the world over the previous 12 months. In the past few years, winners have ranged from environmental activist Greta Thunberg to "The Silence Breakers," aka the figures of the #MeToo movement, and the choice always garners plenty of attention. For this year's honor, the magazine had a shortlist that included Donald Trump, frontline healthcare workers, and the racial justice movement—but the "Person of the Year" title ultimately went to president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris.

The news was announced during an NBC television special held by Time on Thursday night, with the choice of the two politicians revealed by none other than Bruce Springsteen (who had campaigned for Biden and Harris). In a letter released alongside the news, Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal stated that the two leaders were chosen for Person of the Year "for changing the American story, for showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division, for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world."

Indeed, the election of Biden and Harris was absolutely historic and a huge victory for all those who'd fought against the hate and discrimination pushed by the Trump administration for the last several years. And, as Time noted, their wins came during an incomparably difficult time in American history, with 2020 seeing the COVID-19 pandemic, a massive wave of racial injustice, and a crippling recession. "In a year that saw an epic struggle for racial justice, and one of the most consequential elections in history, the Biden-Harris partnership sends a powerful message," Felsenthal wrote.

With Harris set to become the first female, Black, and South Asian vice president of the U.S., there's no question that her impact on the country this past year has been enormous and worthy of Time's recognition alongside Biden. Still, not everyone is happy with the duo being picked for the title, with some people hoping that essential workers (who'd won the Time reader poll for "Person of the Year") would get the honor instead.

That said, essential workers (and Dr. Fauci) did get named Time's Guardians of the Year, as well as the many racial justice organizers involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan was named Businessperson of the Year, a fitting honor considering how popular the platform became in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Even if you disagree with Time's choice of Biden and Harris for the main title, it's undeniable that all of the people honored by the magazine had a major influence on the events of this past year.