President Obama announced 21 new recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday, Pitchfork reports. The new group includes luminaries from nearly every sphere of pop culture: music (Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross), sports (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan), television (Ellen DeGeneres), comedy (Lorne Michaels), film (Tom Hanks, Robert Redford), theater (Cicely Tyson), architecture (Frank Gehry) and more.
The current version of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by President John F. Kennedy. According to the White House’s website, the medal is “presented to 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.” Last year, that group included Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Gloria Estefan and James Taylor.
President Obama praised the latest crop of Medal of Freedom recipients in a statement. “The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor,” he noted. “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. 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 awards will be presented on November 22nd at the White House, and the ceremony will be streamed live online. “I am so honored,” Ellen DeGeneres wrote on Twitter. “Thank you, President Obama.”