Yesterday, November 16, President Obama announced the 21 new recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for 2016.
This award is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the Presidential Medal of Freedom website.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor, it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” President Obama said in the press release for the award on Wednesday. “From scientists, philanthropists and public servants to activists, athletes and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”
Here are the Black recipients of 2016, who they are and why they are receiving the award, from the press release:
“Cicely Tyson has performed on the stage, television and silver screen. She has won two Emmys and a Tony, and is known for her performances in “Sounder,” “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and “The Help.” In 2013, she returned to the stage in “The Trip to the Bountiful” and won the Tony for Best Leading Actress. Tyson received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.”
“Diana Ross has had an iconic career spanning more than 50 years within the entertainment industry in music, film, television, theater and fashion. She is an Academy Award nominee, inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and recipient of the Grammy Award’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross was a recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors. She says her greatest legacy is her five wonderful children.”
“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships and the Milwaukee Bucks to another. During his career, Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time Most Valuable Player and a 19-time All-Star. Before joining the NBA, he was a star player at UCLA, leading the Bruins to three consecutive national championships. In addition to his legendary basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice.”
“Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time. He played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards and is currently a principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets. During his career, Jordan won six championships and five MVP awards, and appeared in 14 All-Star games.”
The awards are to be presented on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at the White House. The ceremony will be streamed live online for those who want to watch.