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Photograph by Marco Grob for TIME

Elizabeth Warren

During a Senate floor debate this year, Senator Elizabeth Warren read a letter from Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow Coretta Scott King. Minutes later, she was silenced mid­sentence by majority leader Mitch McConnell, under an obscure and rarely invoked Senate rule.

"She was warned," Senator McConnell said. "She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."

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Melinda Gates

Yes, she did. And it was just the latest example of this plainspoken daughter of the Plains standing up for the middle class and the marginalized.

I first met Elizabeth after the 2008 housing crisis, when we battled the big banks and mortgage lenders together. I witnessed a fierce and fearless fighter, the same progressive champion who oversaw the $700 billion bank rescue and fought to create a consumer-­protection agency. Today I'm honored to serve alongside her in the Senate.

In these tough times, Elizabeth Warren persists. And America's hardworking families are lucky that she does.

Harris is a U.S. Senator from California

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