Obama awarded 21 luminaries, including Michael Jordan and Ellen DeGeneres, Medal of Freedom

President Obama checked one more thing off his to-do list before he leaves office — honouring a starry list of entertainers, scientists, and public servants with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On Wednesday, Obama named 21 recipients for the nation’s highest civilian honour, including Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jordan, and Bill and Melinda Gates.

It is the last time Obama will award the medal.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honour —  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,” Obama said in a statement posted on White House website. “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.”

Obama also awarded two late luminaries: Grace Hopper, known as “the first lady of software,” who died in 1992, and Elouise Cobell, a tribal activist who advocated for Native Americans, who died in 2011.

The medals will be presented at the White House on November 22.

Here’s a full list of recipients:

  • Maya Lin
  • Frank Gehry
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Michael Jordan
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Tom Hanks
  • Robert De Niro
  • Lorne Michaels
  • Robert Redford
  • Diana Ross
  • Vin Scully
  • Cicely Tyson
  • Bill and Melinda Gates
  • Eduardo Padrón
  • Elouise Cobell (posthumous)
  • Newt Minow
  • Grace Hopper (posthumous)
  • Margaret H. Hamilton
  • Richard Garwin

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