Andre Dubois, grandnephew of former U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.), receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of the late congresswoman from President Barack Obama during an East Room ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 24, 2015.
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President Barack Obama named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the nation, on Wednesday, according to a White House press release.  

The awards, which will be presented in a ceremony at the White House on Nov. 22, honor “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.”


“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. “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.”

The 21 honorees this year are social-justice advocate and retired NBA All-star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Native American advocate Elouise Cobell, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, actor Robert De Niro, polymath physicist Richard Garwin, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, architect Frank Gehry, mathematician and computer scientist Margaret H. Hamilton, actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks, Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, retired NBA All-Star Michael Jordan, artist and designer Maya Lin, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, attorney Newt Minow, Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón, actor and environmentalist Robert Redford, entertainment icon Diana Ross, broadcaster Vin Scully, singer Bruce Springsteen and actress Cicely Tyson.

The Nov. 22 ceremony will be live-streamed at


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