They’re activists, artists, athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs, leaders, and above all else, influencers. ‘Tis the season when we begin to reflect on those who’ve had the greatest impact upon our collective culture in the past year—and as 2020 has been a year unlike any other, this year’s influencers are equally remarkable.
On Tuesday night, Time magazine revealed the 2020 Time100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In a year marked by a push to recognize Black lives, it should come as no surprise that half of its eight Time100 covers feature Black luminaries, including Megan Thee Stallion, power couple Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union, and the founders of Black Lives Matter: Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors. And as always, each honoree is paid tribute by an equally (or more) famous person.
“I remember hearing Megan Thee Stallion on one of those famous DJ radio shows a few years ago.” writes Taraji P. Henson in Meg’s profile. “There was something about this woman. Once you discover her, you become a fan. I don’t like to put the stigma of the word strong on Black women because I think it dehumanizes us, but she has strength—strength through vulnerability…She’s deep. She’s enrolled in college. She’s an entertainer. She’s a free spirit; I see that in her. The industry might try to pigeonhole her in this rap game, but she’s got a plan that’s much bigger. And we got her. I just want her to keep winning.”
“STILL I RISE 🖤,” Meg posted in response to the honor. “YOUNG BLACK WOMAN FROM HOUSTON TEXAS ON THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE AS ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD”
Rising we are, as noted by Mother of the Movement and founder of the Trayvon Martin Foundation Sybrina Fulton in tribute to Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi:
There are only three of them, but they are everywhere. They are getting people to think: What if you had a 17-year-old son in a hoodie, and no weapon, just a candy and a drink, and now he’s dead on the ground? What if your daughter was sleeping in her own bed and the police knocked down the door and killed her? How would you feel? That is what “Black Lives Matter” asks…
Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Once you feel the pain in your chest, you can’t unfeel that pain. I’m glad to see there are more young people getting involved, more nationalities, more races—the protests are now a rainbow of people from all walks of life, in different countries, joining and saying, “Black lives do matter.”
“Calling Gabrielle Union influential is accurate—but also doesn’t quite capture what she does for the culture on a regular basis,” writes Tarana Burke about her famous friend. “She isn’t just “influencing”; she is intentionally directing her attention, influence and resources to advance an agenda that deliberately celebrates the most marginalized among us, including Black women and girls and queer and trans folks.”
Likewise, John Legend writes about Union’s husband, NBA veteran Dwyane Wade, “[H]e was amazing at getting to the basket. But he has also always seen his role as greater than basketball…He’s modeling how parents can champion their kids, and fight for them, and help them become the best adult that they can be. I think that’s really beautiful.”
Some of the other notable pairings and highlights from this year’s Time100 include:
Ayanna Pressley on Kamala Harris; Al Sharpton on Ibram X. Kendi; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Giannis Antetokounmpo; Maya Moore on Naomi Osaka; Bryan Stevenson on Maya Moore; Common on Angela Davis; John Boyega on Tomi Adeyemi; Denzel Washington on Michael B. Jordan; BTS on Halsey; Mary J. Blige on Jennifer Hudson; Stevie Wonder on Yo-Yo Ma; Missy Elliott on Dapper Dan; Lena Waithe on Michaela Coel; Janet Mock on Tourmaline; Oprah Winfrey on Tyler Perry; Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson on Robert F. Smith; Christy Turlington Burns on Allyson Felix; Bubba Wallace on Lewis Hamilton; Cyndi Lauper on Billy Porter and Elton John on The Weeknd, among others.