'Agents of Change' Receive 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom
In a ceremony held today in the East Room of the White House, President and Mrs. Obama participated in a ceremony for the 2009 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
President Obama presented the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 men and women who have made "...an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other signifcant public or private endeavors." President Obama named the 16 recipients on July 30th, 2009.
This year's awardees were chosen for their work as 'agents of change' and included among them Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California who was shot and killed in San Francisco City Hall by a former Supervisor Dan White on November 27, 1978, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.
Milk was (according to Time magazine) "the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet," leading to speculation from within the LGBT community as well as media and political circles that his assassination was a hate crime.
According to the Victory Fund, the award will be accepted at the White House ceremony by Stuart Milk, nephew of the late San Franciso Supervisor and civil rights activist.
Other recipients included Nancy Goodman Brinker, Pedro Jose' Greer, Jr., Stephen Hawking, Jack Kemp, Senator Edward Kennedy, Billie Jean King, Reverend Joseph Lowery, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, Sandra Day O'Connor, Sidney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Mary Robinson, Janet Davison Rowley, M.D., Desmond Tutu, and Muhammad Yunus.
See the official release for more details on this year's 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.