It’s the nation’s highest civilian honor!
Civil rights icons Fred Gray and Diane Nash, actor Denzel Washington and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles are set to receive this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, The White House reports.
The White House recently announced this year’s recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is recognized as the nation’s highest civilian honor. Included in the 17 named recipients are civil rights attorney Fred Gray, civil rights activist Diane Nash, Academy award-winning actor Denzel Washington, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, as well as critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay.
“These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith,” the White House said in a press release. “They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities — and across the world — while blazing trails for generations to come.”
As civil rights pioneers, both Gray and Nash are being recognized for their work and impact on the civil rights movement. Gray, who is a civil rights attorney, provided counsel to Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, the NAACP, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, Dr. King referred to him as “the chief counsel for the protest movement.” Gray is still practicing law at the age of 91.
Also dedicating her life to civil rights, Nash was a Freedom Rider and one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Her activism work also includes working alongside Dr. King, helping pitch an idea to advocate for Black voting rights. It came to be known as the Selma to Montgomery marches.
Washington is being recognized for his great contributions to the arts and using his platform to inspire the next generation. For the last 25 years, the award-winning actor, director and producer has been the National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Biles is being honored for being the most decorated American gymnast in history – as well as an advocate for victims of sexual assault, the mental health and safety of athletes, and children in the foster care system.
Lindsay, the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials, will also receive a medal of freedom for her advocacy of vaccines and the mental health of those working in the health care field.
Congratulations to all of the 2022 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients!
The Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony is set to take place at the White House on Thursday, July 7.
Photo Courtesy of Nicole Crane/New York Times; Leigh Vogel/Getty Images; Christina House/Los Angeles Times; Jamie Squire/Getty Images