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The Most Influential 80-Plus-Year-Olds in America

Slate – Here are the top 20: “…To pick our 80 octogenarians (and nonagenarians and centenarians), we tried to measure influence broadly. We especially weighed significant achievements after 80 and current relevance, though lasting impact is important too. The list is limited to Americans (sorry, Pope Francis), but we used some editorial discretion for people who weren’t born here but have lived in the states for much of their lives. For illustrations, we partnered with students from the New School’s Parsons School of Design. It’s also important to note that this list inevitably skews toward white men, which is a reflection of the barriers that were in place while this generation was rising to power—barriers that in some cases still exist or are just beginning to be dismantled. “Influence” isn’t necessarily a positive thing, either; the list includes plenty of figures with complicated legacies. Some make movies. Some make laws. Some sing. Some tweet. One broke a record for the 100-meter dash at 99 years old. [Note – I am deeply grateful to know three extraordinary octogenarian women who deserve to be on this list – and am grateful that they have been the beacons in my life for many decades.]

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