The longest-serving lawmaker in U.S. congressional history, a legendary Motown artist, and the matriarch of a renowned political family will be among this year’s recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor, the White House announced Monday.
Rep. John Dingell, Stevie Wonder and Ethel Kennedy are three of the nineteen Americans who Obama will bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon later this month.
Dingell has served nearly 60 years in Congress representing a district outside Detroit. He’ll retire at the end of this session. Wonder has won 25 Grammys and an Oscar for his fusion of soul, rhythm and blues and jazz. And Kennedy, who is the widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, became an activist for human rights and the environment after her husband’s death.
Other honorees this year include Meryl Streep, the prolific actress known for holding the most Oscar nominations of any actor in history. She stars this winter in “Into the Woods,” the musical composed by Stephen Sondheim, to whom Obama will also award the Medal of Freedom on November 24.
Tom Brokaw, the former “NBC Nightly News” anchor, will be honored as well, alongside actress Marlo Thomas, golfer Charles Sifford and author Isabel Allende.
The other medalists are scientist Mildred Dresselhaus; Native American activist Suzan Harjo; former Reps. Abner Mikva of Illinois and Patsy Takemoto Mink of Hawaii; and economist Robert Solow.
Five awards will be delivered posthumously: to “Freedom Summer” civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner; to the well-known choreographer Alvin Ailey, who founded the namesake dance company; and to Rep. Edward Roybal, the founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.