Rita Dove, 2011

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Poet and author Dove smiles at President Obama as she receives the 2011 National Medal of Arts in the East Wing of the White House on Feb. 13, 2012. The National Medal of Arts has been awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts since 1985, while the National Humanities Medal has been handed out by the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1998. Both awards are presented to recipients yearly by the president.

Martin Puryear, 2011

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Contemporary sculptor Puryear shakes hands with President Obama after accepting the 2011 National Medal of Arts during the Feb. 13 ceremony.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2011

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Philosopher and African-American studies scholar Appiah accepts the National Humanities Medal from President Obama on Feb. 13, 2012.

Sonny Rollins, 2010

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Saxophonist Rollins receives the 2010 National Medal of Arts award from President Obama on March 2, 2011, honoring his influences on jazz music.

Quincy Jones, 2010

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Music mogul Jones poses with his purple and gold medal during the ceremony for the 2010 National Medal of Arts recipients on March 2, 2011.

Hank Jones, 2008


Jazz musician Jones stands next to President Bush during the 2008 National Medal of Arts ceremony on Nov. 17, 2008.

Wynton Marsalis and James DePreist, 2005

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

2005 recipients trumpeter Marsalis (left) and music conductor DePreist chat outside the East Wing of the White House during the ceremony on Nov. 10, 2005.

Buddy Guy, 2003


Blues guitarist Guy (left) stands with dancer Suzanne Farrell and President Bush during the 2003 National Medal of Arts ceremony on Nov. 12, 2003.

Smokey Robinson, 2002

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

Singer-songwriter and Motown legend Robinson received the award from President Bush in 2002.

Maya Angelou, 2000

Kris Conner/Getty Images

Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and poet Angelou was awarded the medal in 2000 for her numerous literary and humanitarian achievements.

Aretha Franklin, 1999

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Music legend Franklin received her National Medal of Arts award in 1999 from President Clinton.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., 1998

Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Harvard professor, author, African-American scholar and The Root's editor-in-chief, Gates was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 1998.