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The Cover Story
Porche Bennett-Bey, Assa Traoré and Racial-Justice Organizers Are TIME's Guardians of the Year
By Justin Worland
Senior Correspondent, TIME

One of the things I enjoy about working at TIME is the ability to use my stories to zoom out beyond the day-to-day news and give readers perspective from 30,000 feet. At no time is that more true than with our Person of the Year package, where we look at the full sweep of the year.

One of the major themes of this year was the the fight for racial justice, from the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade to the protests that not only drew an estimated 10% of Americans to the street and inspired similar demonstrations around the world. Every one of those stories was important in its own right. For this story, I had an opportunity to reflect on the larger picture after months of nonstop news and ask what it all means.

It is clear that racial justice activists accomplished a lot in 2020, not least in speaking truth to power and shining a light on the long-standing inequities in our societies. But even as many in the U.S. and around the world have a newfound understanding of the nature of systemic racism, much work remains to be done. The organizers featured in my story know how hard it will be to build a better society, but they’re not daunted by the challenge. That insistence on fighting for a principle bigger than themselves is what united the racial justice organizers such as Assa Troure and Porche Bennett-Bey that TIME named one of our 2020 Guardians of the Year. As Bennett-Bey, an activist in Kenosha, Wisc., told me: “Is it going to happen overnight? No. But am I willing to put in the work to see that change? Yes.”

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