Stevie Wonder and former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw are among 19 people to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest non-military honor, the White House announced Monday.
The honorees span the worlds of business, government, advocacy and sports, and feature high-profile names and little-known but influential figures.
“From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world,” President Obama said in a statement.
Among other recognizable names are actress Meryl Streep, novelist Isabel Allende and dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey.
Composer Stephen Sondheim, activist Ethel Kennedy and long-serving U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell also will be honored.
Other influential figures include the three activists killed during the 1964 Freedom Summer voter registration drive in Mississippi. Their deaths helped lead to landmark civil rights legislation.
The medals will be presented during a ceremony at the White House this month.