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In a year marked by a caustic and bruising election, they remind us of the American ideals we can all agree on — just when we need it.

One is a jurist who’s devoted his life to dispensing justice, while two others harnessed law students to fight for the exoneration of the wrongfully imprisoned.

The U.S. auto industry made history with the appointment of the first female chairman and CEO, who’s taken a beleaguered company and is steering it toward a bright future.

Detroit’s east side has new affordable housing thanks to one honoree, while another has worked day and night since his retirement to connect groups and volunteers doing good work all over the city.

We salute the pediatrician who forced state government to admit the gravity of Flint’s water crisis, and commend the top corporate executive who lent a hand to that city’s embattled mayor in addressing some of its biggest problems.

And finally, since we need inspiration of all sorts these days, we recognize two local Olympians — one swimmer, one boxer — whose grace, skill and sportsmanship have left us breathless.

They join a long list of distinguished individuals that The Detroit News has honored each year since 1978.

Their selflessness lifts them far above the everyday. They are the 2016 Michiganians of the Year. Click on their names to learn more about their work.

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