WASHINGTON: Movie mogul Steven Spielberg, singer-director Barbra Streisand, and songwriter James Taylor are among 17 people to be awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Monday.
“I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor,” President Barack Obama said.
“From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans,” he added.
Among other entertainment stars to be honored are music producer Emilio Estefan and pop star Gloria Estefan, a Cuban American couple seen as trailblazers for being Spanish-language stars who successfully crossed over to the English-language market.
Grammy-winner Itzhak Perlman and composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim also will receive the honor together with the likes of Spielberg, the director and philanthropist whose films include blockbusters such as “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park,” “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” and the “Indiana Jones” series.
Baseball great Willie Mays will be honored alongside fellow legend Yogi Berra, who will get a posthumous award.
Public servants to be lauded include the late Shirley Chisholm, who became the first black US congresswoman in 1968. She later ran for president as a Democrat, and was a professor at Mount Holyoke College.
The late Minoru Yasui also is to be honored. The attorney challenged the constitutionality of a military curfew order during World War II on the grounds of racial discrimination. He was in solitary confinement during the legal process and spent much of his life appealing his wartime conviction.
“At the time of his death in 1986, he had successfully convinced a trial court to vacate his arrest, and a case challenging the constitutionality of his conviction was pending before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,” a White House statement said.
The awards ceremony will take place at the White House on November 24.