The White House has announced 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The honorees were “chosen for their work as agents of change,” according to a White House release, “They have blased trails and broken down barriers.”
Among them are Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), quadriplegic British physicist Stephen Hawking, tennis star Billie Jean King, civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, actor Sidney Poitier, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus.
Medals were also awarded to Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Pedro Jose Greer Jr., founder of Camillus Health Concern; Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief; performer Chita Rivera; former Irish President Mary Robinson and geneticist Janet Davison Rowley.