Make sure to get your copy of the 2020 OBSERVER Person of the Year Edition with the amazing cover before they are all gone!

You can find them at:

  • Bonfare Market (3100 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95817)
  • Airway Market (5960 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento CA 95822)
  • Rodney’s Cigar & Liquor Store (1000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814)
  • Perry Beauty Supply & Thangs (3742 Rio Linda Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95838)
  • Jimmy’s Deli (1201 Grand Ave., Sacramento, CA 95838)
  • Avid Reader (1945 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818)
  • Florin Square (2251 Florin Road, Sacramento, CA 95822)
  • Sacramento OBSERVER (1825 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815)
  • Box Brothers (2213 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815)
  • Underground Books (2814 35th St., Sacramento, CA 95817)

2020 OBSERVER Person of The Year

Agitators, educators, innovators, and trailblazers. For decades, The Sacramento OBSERVER has selected a Person of the Year, an individual who has made an incredible impact over the last 365 days, advancing causes, tirelessly battling for change, speaking up for the voiceless, and turning personal pain into power. In some years, there have been more than one person who exemplifies these qualities and has gone above and beyond to make the community stronger.

This has been one of those years, in more ways than one. There hasn’t been a year like this, ever. For rising above and making it through an unprecedented global pandemic, YOU are The OBSERVER’s Person of the Year for 2020. Yes, Y-O-U.

You have gone through one of the worst times imaginable. While you’re not unscathed, you are still here.

You come from a long line of overcomers. You’ve been through a lot, from slavery and Jim Crow to genocide, famine and wars you didn’t create. Your resilience was already the stuff of legends, but this right here, this solidifies your place amongst champion survivors.

You saw COVID-19 impact people who look like you disproportionately across the country, further exposing disparities in healthcare and health outcomes you’d been telling folks about all along.

You, in true Black fashion, gave the coronavirus a nickname, dubbing it “Rona” or “The Rona” and started explaining things as happening during “Rona time.”

You self-quarantined, isolating yourself from family and friends even when doing so threatened your mental wellness.

You looked in the mirror every day and in order to function, you told yourself that you were OK.

You were OK.

You had never heard the term “social distancing,” but quickly started telling people to back up and stay the recommended six feet apart.

You were forced to stop hugging people and switched up your signature handshakes and fist bumps in favor of simple elbow taps or head nods to acknowledge someone’s presence.

You bought enough hand sanitizer to be considered an investor.
You learned what PPE stood for.

You made N95s as popular as the Iphone 12 or the latest J’s.

You started wearing face coverings any time you left the house, coordinating them with your outfits and using them as political statements, urging others to vote and remember that Black Lives Matter.

You may have needed a few “quarantinis” to handle the stress of the “new normal,” but you drank up and pressed on.

You used your time, talents — and JoAnn coupons — to craft handmade masks and donate them to the unhoused.

You were the unhoused, expected to shelter-in place, with no shelter.
You were grateful for what you have, so you gave to those who had less, stepping up every week to bring food and water to your homeless neighbors.

You remained on the frontlines, providing vital services and maintaining our way of life.

You were disproportionately service workers and tested positive.

You may not have been assigned the distinction, but you have been “essential” to your family, providing the best you can in uncertain times.

You became a teacher overnight without so much as a lesson plan or motivational retreat that usually precedes the start of a school year. Yet and still, you rolled up your sleeves and braved what seemed like foreign concepts to help your children with virtual education.

You, as an educator, learned new, innovative ways to reach students, despite limited resources and support. You also discovered that the digital divide is still a thing, finding that many students had already been distanced from learning because they had no real access to computers or the Internet.

You vowed to not send your kids back to school when the time came, but you changed your mind as the pandemic continued and you were exposed to your children 24 hours a day, every day.

Your last year of high school was one hell of a senior prank.

You read news reports about impending vaccines with a side eye.

You lost your job and wondered how you’d pay the bills and keep a roof over your head.

You couldn’t pay your rent, but thanked God — and the governor — for a moratorium on evictions.

You cashed that stimulus check, but said you still weren’t going to vote for Donald Trump, who “is not your president.”

Your faith in America was put on “standby.”

You caught hell for standing by Donald Trump.

Your husband died and while he was mourned by hundreds, only 10 people were allowed to attend his service.

You gave birth to a child after several miscarriages and all you wanted was your village around you, but because of safety protocols, you couldn’t have your loved ones by your side.

You live in a long term care facility, where positive cases remain high.
You showed compassion for a family whose beloved matriarch was in hospice, bending the “no outside visitors” rule so they could say goodbye.

You worked for a restaurant that moved to drive-thru only and laid off most of its workers.

You applied for unemployment in unprecedented numbers.

You thanked God you still had a job.

You had to go to work for employers who didn’t believe that the virus was a big deal and refused to enforce state and county-mandated safety measures.

You worked remotely from home and could finally wear pajamas to work and not be written up for it.

You gained the COVID 15 pounds and then couldn’t go to the gym to work them off.

You survived the toilet paper shortage. We won’t ask how you did, but you did.

You found out who was Zooming who when you were thrust into a virtual world of conference calls, webinars and town hall discussions.

You and your fellow social workers dealt with an increase in child abuse and domestic violence.

You went “COVID crazy” and nobody noticed.

You checked out.

You checked in with seniors and loved ones who weren’t doing so well.

You lost everything in a devastating wildfire on top of everything else.

Your six-year-old asked if she was going to die from the virus.

You struggled with how to tell your children why they couldn’t see their friends or have sleepovers like they used to.

You hosted drive-thru graduations and birthdays, honking your horns instead of hanging streamers and balloons.

You opened a new business and then COVID hit before you could establish a clientele.

You had to close your doors after 20 years in business. You were forced to get creative, or collaborative, to stay afloat.

You turned isolation into innovation, starting a home-based business.

You couldn’t worship like you’re used to, but it was reinforced for you that church isn’t just the building and because there is no limit to your praise, you participated in outdoor, virtual or drive-thru Sunday services.

You opened your hearts when the sanctuary was closed and hosted food giveaways from the church parking lot, extending a hand to those impacted by the shutdowns and shortfalls.

You put your left in, you put your left foot out. Just when you thought it was safe to go outside, Rona said ‘no sir, no ma’am,’ prompted new restrictions, and made you turn yourself around.

You were accosted while minding your own damn business.

You had enough of White people weaponizing 9-1-1 calls and putting your life in danger. You might have even had to “Molly wop” a “Karen” or two for being a racist and violating your personal space.

You were arrested. You couldn’t breathe.

You were beyond tired of Black men and women dying at the hands of law enforcement officers. You took to the streets saying the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and local men like Stephon Clark and Mikel McIntrye.

You spoke out at protests and for exercising your Constitutional rights, rubber bullets pierced your beautiful brown skin.

Your badge and blue uniform put you at odds with the community you’re dedicated to protecting and serving.

You were found hanging from trees and basketball hoops and whether it was an act of desperation or deplorable hatred, it hurt the community’s soul, harkening back to days of lynching and us being “strange fruit.”

You are Black and when life gives you lemons, you continually make lemonade, lemon crusted salmon, and that lemon pound cake you saw Patti LaBelle make on TV … you get the picture.

You are reading this and that means you made it through 2020 and you are to be commended for that. Give yourselves a round of applause and then go wash your hands.


By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer

Make sure to get your copy of the 2020 OBSERVER Person of the Year Edition with the amazing cover before they are all gone!

You can find them at:

  • Bonfare Market (3100 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95817)
  • Airway Market (5960 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento CA 95822)
  • Rodney’s Cigar & Liquor Store (1000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814)
  • Perry Beauty Supply & Thangs (3742 Rio Linda Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95838)
  • Jimmy’s Deli (1201 Grand Ave., Sacramento, CA 95838)
  • Avid Reader (1945 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818)
  • Florin Square (2251 Florin Road, Sacramento, CA 95822)
  • Sacramento OBSERVER (1825 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815)
  • Box Brothers (2213 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815)
  • Underground Books (2814 35th St., Sacramento, CA 95817)