Our Time Has Come: Person of the Year 2014
Young people are well-represented on Time Magazine’s Person of the Year shortlist. Jess Connett takes us through the youngest ever potential recipients.
This year, young people have achieved some incredible things: from 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai becoming the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, to the High School protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, getting the world talking about race, violence and policing in America following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. We are a new generation unhappy with the way things are, and determined to make change.
Time Magazine selects an influential individual or group each year, for ‘Person of the Year’. The two youngest recipients have been aged 25 (Charles Lindbergh – the first person to ever fly nonstop from New York to Paris) and 26 (Mark Zuckerberg – inventor of Facebook and all-round super businessman). This year, there are six people under the age of 25 on the 50-person shortlist. We could be in for an historic victory for young people. A panel of judges will decide the ultimate winner on December 10th – but here’s our breakdown of the list.
The Chibok Girls: 16-18 years old
In April, over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school by Boko Haram – a Nigerian terrorist group. One moment these teenagers were sitting their final exams; the next they were being forced into trucks by armed men. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was tweeted over five million times, and kept the world aware while the mainstream media was slow to pick up the story. In the six months since the kidnapping, Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have unsuccessfully negotiated the release of the girls, who are reported to have been sold as brides and forced to convert to Islam. Boko Haram’s leader has said that the girls are never coming home.
Influential action: Twitter campaign generated five million uses of the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls
Malala Yousafzai: 17 years old
In 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the face by a member of the Pakistani Taliban, after speaking out about girls’ right to attend school. She was flown to the UK to receive treatment for the gunshot wound, and used the assassination attempt as motivation to speak out about female education. Her campaign was picked up on by politicians around the world, who have pledged that girls will have the same rights to education as boys in Pakistan. In October 2014 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – becoming the youngest ever recipient. She has already been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Influential action: youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner and all round great person
Joshua Wong: 18 years old
Joshua Wong is the leader of a student activist group in Hong Kong. He has been extremely active in pro-democracy protests, rallying thousands of other students to take to the streets. In June 2014, over 90% of Hong Kong residents voted against plans to remove democratic government elections. Despite this, the Chinese government went ahead with the changes, sparking The Umbrella Revolution. Since September, up to 100,000 citizens have occupied roads, parks and spaces in the city centre, wearing yellow ribbons as a symbol of resistance. Joshua Wong has been arrested and beaten by police, and also believes that his name now appears on a list of threats to Chinese national security, despite his strictly non-violent beliefs.
Influential action: has led 100,000 Hong Kong citizens in peaceful democratic protests
Ferguson Protesters: 18 years old
Rather than a single influential person, the protestors in Ferguson would be commended as a group if they were to win Person of the Year – like the 2011 winner, ‘The Protestor’, which represented millions of individuals around the globe who had taken part in the Occupy Movement and Arab Spring. After the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August 2014, shot by the Police while unarmed, members of the community in Michael’s home town of Ferguson, Missouri, took to the streets to protest. Following the decision not to prosecute Officer Wilson, fresh protests have been led by 18-year-old Joshua Williams, Michael Brown’s school friends and other young people who are angry about the racism they encounter daily.
Influential action: drawing global attention to issues surrounding gun crime, racism and the Police’s relation to the community it serves
Taylor Swift: 24 years old
Taylor Swift isn’t loved by everyone, but judging by how quickly her latest album ‘1989’ has sold, she certainly has a lot of fans. The album shot straight to number one on release in October 2014, selling more than one million copies in the first week. ‘1989’ is now the best selling album of 2014, taking the title from Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and – even – the Frozen soundtrack.
Influential action: has sold more records than anyone else this year, on her way to world domination
Jennifer Lawrence: 24 years old
Jennifer Lawrence isn’t just an amazing actress, or the star of one of this year’s biggest films, or the highest paid female actress in Hollywood. She is also an outspoken advocate for controversial women’s issues – from body and eating issues to mental health. When ‘The Fappening’ released over 500 private photographs of numerous celebrities including Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence came out fighting, calling it a ‘sex crime’ and a ‘violation’. She refused to accept the victim-blaming stance of the media, that by taking the photographs, she had brought the situation upon herself. She placed blame solely upon the hackers who had stolen her property, and the individuals viewing and sharing the photographs without her permission.
Influential action: highly successful actress and outspoken victim of The Fappening
Do you think Time Magazine have missed someone out? Do you think it’s likely that a young person will take the Person of the Year 2014 title? Let us know who you’re putting your money on via our Facebook or Twitter.
Malala’s Five Most Inspiring Quotes by Sammy Jones
Emma Watson vs The Fappening by Beth Middleton
Is Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ Video Racist? by Matt Bates