Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King, Desmond Tutu, Other “Agents of Change” to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Victory Fund just announced that
President Barack Obama plans to award America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Harvey Milk, one of the country’s first openly gay elected officials…American tennis great Billy Jean King, who is openly lesbian, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who has championed LGBT equality throughout his political career, also will receive the Presidential Medal of Honor at the August 12 ceremony.
The White House released a statement:
This year’s awardees were chosen for their work as agents of change. Among their many accomplishments in fields ranging from sports and art to science and medicine to politics and public policy, these men and women have changed the world for the better. They have blazed trails and broken down barriers. They have discovered new theories, launched new initiatives, and opened minds to new possibilities.
President Obama said in the statement:
These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds. Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.
Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive. It is my great honor to award them the Medal of Freedom.
Among the thirteen other recipients are Bishop Desmond Tutu; Ireland’s first female president and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson; Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Professor Stephen Hawkin; Rev. Joseph Lowerey; and the late representative Jack Kemp; actor and activist Sidney Poitier; and actress Chita Rivera.
The recipients all share a commitment to bettering the human condition, and include: Dr. Janet Davison Rowley, an American human geneticist and the first scientist to identify a chromosomal translocation as the cause of leukemia and other cancers; Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a global leader in anti-poverty efforts who pioneered the use of “micro-loans” to provide credit to poor individuals without collateral; Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s leading breast cancer grass roots organization; Dr. Pedro Jose Greer, founder of Camillus Health Concern, which provides medical care to over 10,000 homeless patients a year in Miami; and Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief, author of seminal works in Native American history and culture, and WW2 veteran who also stole fifty Nazi SS horses from a German camp as part of the four tasks required to become a “war chief.”