Obama Names Medal of Freedom Honorees
President Barack Obama named 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, the White House announced Thursday. He will present the awards at a ceremony on Aug. 12.
Among the recipients are Sidney Poitier, a lauded screen and stage veteran who was the first African American Academy Award winner; Bishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and longtime anti-apartheid activist; and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a leading civil rights activist who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr.
Other recipients include Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court; tennis pro and activist Billie Jean King; prominent legislator Sen. Edward M. Kennedy; and Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s leading breast cancer grassroots organization.
“These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds,” Obama said. “Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.
The Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make an exemplary contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural, or other significant public or private endeavors.
— Janell Hazelwood