The Silence Breakers are TIME's 2017 Person of the Year

TIME has named The Silence Breakers, the individuals who set off a national reckoning over the prevalence of sexual harassment, as its 2017 Person of the Year.

The magazine's editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal revealed the selection Wednesday on TODAY along with the cover, a composite group photo that includes actress Ashley Judd, singer Taylor Swift and former Uber engineer Susan Fowler.

"The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover…along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s," Felsenthal said in a statement.

The Silence Breakers emerged amid burgeoning allegations of sexual misconduct and assault by film executive Harvey Weinstein. As his list of accusers swelled, so did the number of people who spoke up to expose dozens of other famous individuals in Hollywood, politics, journalism and other industries as sexual predators.

Actor Kevin Spacey, journalist Charlie Rose, comedian Louis CK and U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota were among the high-profile names snared in an ever-growing web of alleged sexual harassers. Last week, former TODAY anchor Matt Lauer was also accused of sexual misconduct.

The women, and men, who broke their silence to share their stories of victimization gave traction to the #MeToo campaign, which took off on social media and fueled a worldwide discussion on just how endemic sexual harassment has been.

Felsenthal noted the hashtag, which he called "a powerful accelerant," has been used millions of times in at least 85 countries.

Since 1927, TIME has bestowed its Person of the Year title upon an individual or group of people who the magazine's editors believe have most influenced news and events of the past year, “for good or ill.”

"The idea that influential, inspirational individuals shape the world could not be more apt this year," Felsenthal said. "For giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable, The Silence Breakers are the 2017 Person of the Year.”

TODAY viewers selected the #MeToo Movement as the Person of the Year in an online reader poll

© 2017 NBCNEWS.COM


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