George Clooney believes in the American spirit.

On Wednesday, People revealed that the “Midnight Sky” actor is one of its 2020 People of the Year, along with Regina King, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Selena Gomez.

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In the issue, Clooney talks about his longtime political advocacy and activism work.

“I grew up in a generation where all the people that mattered to us were being murdered, from Martin Luther King to Bobby and Jack Kennedy to Malcolm X and Medgar Evers, and all these things that counted were going on, with women’s rights, civil rights, the anti-Vietnam [war protests],” he says.

“You had to be involved. My mother and father were involved, and we were [taught] it is your civic duty… I remember my father saying, ‘Don’t come back and look me in the eye unless you stand up to [bullies and racists].’ I’m glad to have been raised that way.”

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The 59-year-old agreed that “2020 has sort of exhausted everyone,” but he is hopeful for the future.

“I’m always optimistic about this country. We fail a great deal, but I’ve been to so many countries that are really failed states, and they look to this country for leadership. We come up short a lot—race being our great original sin and clearly the one we’ve been the worst at—but we are in the constant process of trying to find a more perfect union… You can’t give up,” he says. “I believe in the American spirit.”