They refused to stay silent or to let a lost life be forgotten, and their local outcry reignited a national movement.
That, says Time magazine, is why Ferguson protesters deserve to be runners-up for 2014's Person of the Year.
The magazine's annual honor officially went to another group that's been in the news this year: ebola fighters.
"For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are Time's 2014 Person of the Year," wrote Nancy Gibbs, Time's managing editor, for the magazine.
But the demonstrators who protested against racial inequality and police brutality in Ferguson and St. Louis earned a spot as second runners-up, alongside three men who changed the world this year (for better and for worse): Russian president Vladimir Putin, Kurdish president Massoud Barzani and Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma.
Time credited Ferguson protesters with reviving a national conversation about race, one that had been dormant for decades, and with launching a movement to reshape the relationship between police and those they're sworn to protect.
"What started in a Missouri suburb may end with change that can be measured in lives saved," Time says.
The last time Daily RFT checked in with Time's 2014 Person of the Year, Ferguson protesters were climbing up the readers' poll, where voters decide who did the most to affect the year's news. (The magazine's editors decide the official person of the year.)
In the end, Ferguson protesters finished second in the readers' poll to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the newly elected Prime Minister of India, the world's largest democracy.
Modi received more than 16 percent of almost 5 million votes cast. Nine percent of the votes went to Ferguson protesters.