WASHINGTON – Since late Thursday,Dec. 10, 2020, Rahul Dubey’s cellphone has been buzzing with calls and text messages from family and friends congratulating him on being named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of 2020.”
Dubey was widely praised after he opened his Northwest Washington home in early June to roughly 60 people who had been protesting racial injustice after George Floyd’s death. Law enforcement had pushed the demonstrators down the street, and they faced possible arrest for staying out after a city-imposed curfew.
Time’s editors determined the 44-year-old health care entrepreneur should be honored as a hero for giving the protesters overnight refuge in his rented, three-story rowhouse near Swann and 15th street.
Dubey (pronounced Du-bay) was one of five whom the magazine honored. Among the others were volunteer Australian firefighters and a Chicago-based pastor who turned her church into a community hub for fresh produce, cleaning supplies and hot meals for neighborhood residents during the pandemic.
“This is just validation that good is recognized and that what we did that night was good,” Dubey said Saturday as his phone continued to ring with more congratulatory calls.
Dubey said he had been contacted more than a week ago by a Time journalist who interviewed him about the incident and how his life has been since. He said he was told then that he was only being “considered” for the recognition. He did not find out until Thursday that he was one of the heroes selected.
The short piece on Dubey is titled “The man who gave shelter to those in need.” The story includes a photo of Dubey in his home surrounded by about a dozen of the demonstrators.
Just before Dubey opened his home to them that night in June, police had surged forward into the group, pushing the protesters with shields and spraying gas. As they tried to run, Dubey opened his front door and yelled for them to come inside.
Dubey guided the demonstrators to his basement kitchen and back patio, where they began to wash out their eyes with water and milk. When the milk ran out, Dubey’s neighbors passed more over the fence.
Dubey said he has remained in contact with many of the demonstrators. That is how several assembled in his home recently for a Time photo.
The Detroit native said he has always wanted to effect change since moving to the nation’s capital in 2003. “Washington is the mecca for change, and look what is happening,” he said. “Change is happening, not just here in Washington but throughout the world.”