JONAH RASKIN :
OPINION | Top 12 heroes of 2020

In alphabetical order for your convenience.

Stacey Abrams. Caricature by DonkeyHotey. Creative Commons image.

Compiled by Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog |December 9, 2020

[Also see Jonah Raskin’s “Top 11 criminals of 2020” on The Rag Blog.]


2020 has been the year of the collective, often unheralded, hero. Still, some individuals have stood out. This list reflects the anonymous, the famous, and the infamous.

Stacey Abrams, lawyer and more, who has aimed to expand the electorate and prevent the reintroduction of Jim Crow. Supports abolition of cash bail, abolition of the death penalty, widening Medicaid, and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

José Ramón Andrés, born in Spain in ’69, founded World Central Kitchen in 2010. Since then he has provided tens of thousands of healthy meals to people affected by disasters, from Haiti to Peru and Cuba to Cambodia. An outspoken critic of Trump, Andrés starred in his own cooking show, Vamos a Cocinar, which debuted in 2005.

Anonymous U.S. poll watchers, ballot counters and state election officials who were not intimidated by the White House and its lawyers, and who helped safeguard the millions of votes that were cast to rid Trump from the White House.

Rana Ayyub, thirty-six-year-old journalist and one of India’s best-known investigative reporters, relentlessly pursued authoritarian President Narendra Modi and his aides. As a Muslim from Mumbai, she has lived on the country’s sectarian divide and has dared to uncover political corruption.

Black Lives Matter brought light to the nation during some of the darkest days of the Trump administration and the COVID-19 pandemic. Though BLM, which advocated nonviolent civil disobedience, began after the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, it didn’t coalesce and expand globally until George Floyd’s murder in 2020.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, 79, probably didn’t need to tangle with the president, but he did and put science before Trump’s misinformation and disinformation campaign about Covid-19. Fauci spoke truth to power and helped save lives.

George Floyd, 46-year-old African-American murdered in Minneapolis, made news around the world and sparked protests against police brutality. A rapper known as “Big Floyd,” he gave his life for the cause. His spirit goes marching on.

Health workers all across the world who aimed to save lives and protect people threatened by COVID-19. Kudos also to the essential workers, custodians, and men and women on farms and ranches who harvested crops and fed the nation during the pandemic.

John Lewis, Georgia Congressman, son of sharecroppers, Freedom Rider, and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), stood with MLK and brought the cause of civil rights into the twenty-first century.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020. No group has done more to normalize and legalize weed and keep citizens informed.

Adam Schiff, California Democrat, has long been a thorn in the side of Trump, especially during the impeachment inquiry. Though he voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 he has since regretted his stance. He has time to grow.

Greta Thunberg, 17-year-old Swedish teenager, who sounded alarms about global climate change, sailed the Atlantic, took her message to the United Nations, and called upon members of the older generations to play their part.


[Jonah Raskin is the author of For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman recently translated into French and published in France under the title, Pour le plaisir de faire la révolution.]


This entry was posted in RagBlog and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to JONAH RASKIN :
OPINION | Top 12 heroes of 2020

  1. Allen Young says:

    Excellent and informative list. Two on on the list are new to me, which is fine. And everyone there is fully qualified and deserving. Thanks, Jonah. I was wondering: Did you start out with 20 or more and then eliminate some. Or was all this very quick and spontaneous? I’m just curious. I can imagine playing around with a list like this for hours.

    • Jonah Raskin says:

      I made a list of villains, which you might have seen. Some time after that I thought it would also be cool to have heroes, though my brother Adam told me “it’s bourgeois to have a list of heroes.” I had suggestions on whom to include. Some I included, some I didn’t. My other brother, Daniel, suggested Stephen Curry who plays basketball for the Golden State Warriors. Daniel isn’t even a basketball fan. I think Stacey Abrams was the last name I added. I did not start with a big number and eliminate. Several people told me “don’t water it down.” Of course any time one draws up a list some people will be left off. I wouldn’t say it was quick and spontaneous. I started with Fauci and George Floyd and added names, and sat with it for a week and cogitated. Then sent the list to Thorne.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Our Elections Administrators, particularly in Harris County (Houston), deserve major kudos. Every innovative step of the way, they were getting blowback from our indicted TX AG Ken Paxton.
    I don’t know how to honor the immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees struggling to survive Stephen Miller’s atrocious policies during the Trump regime. They are surviving in tents on the other side of the border, in for profit detention facilities, in sanctuary churches, in the shadows, without due process, without health care protection, with the legal protections of DACA and TSP in doubt. There are heroes who have organized with courage, provided sanctuary, taken meals across the border, and provided legal assistance in the face of enormous odds.

  3. Jonah Raskin says:

    Thank you greatly. I believe there are many people, refugees, immigrants, exiles and more who ought to be honored. They’re in Harris County and in counties across the country.

  4. angela angie says:

    thanks for sharing, Black Lives Matter brought light to the nation during some of the darkest days of the Trump administration and the COVID-19 pandemic. Though BLM, which advocated nonviolent civil disobedience, began after the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, it didn’t coalesce and expand globally until George Floyd’s murder in 2020.
    keep sharing information like this
    wonderful post!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.