Diana Ross, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Among 21 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients

By Sameer Rao Nov 17, 2016

History-making athletes, artists and businesspeople of color feature among the 21 new recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

President Barack Obama announced the honorees—the last set to be honored during his presidency—yesterday (November 16). "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," the president said in a statement on The White House’s website.

Recipients of color in that list of 21 include:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball legend and social justice activist
  • Elouise Cobell, Native banker, activist and lead plaintiff in the seminal Cobell v. Salazar case 
  • Michael Jordan, basketball legend and businessman
  • Maya Lin, artist and designer behind Washington, D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Eduardo Padrón, Miami Dade College president and educational inclusion pioneer
  • Diana Ross, singer, actress and pioneering Motown star
  • Cicely Tyson, Broadway and screen icon

The honorees, listed in full here, will be recognized at a livestreamed ceremony on November 22.

(H/t NPR