The 2016 Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama chooses his final honorees.


President Obama chooses his final honorees.

Tom Hanks

Easily one of the nation's most beloved actors and filmmakers, Tom Hanks has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role five times, ultimately winning twice for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. He is also a vocal advocate for social and environmental justice and veterans' rights.

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Diana Ross

Diana Ross is a living legend. Her acting and singing career now spans over five decades, including her iconic work in The Supremes and as a solo artist. She has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and has received the Grammy Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Ellen DeGeneres

Not only is Ellen DeGeneres one of the most beloved talk show hosts around, but she's also a prolific and award-winning comedian and actress who has paved the way for LGBTQ people everywhere. She made TV history after her character on Ellen came out in 1997, and she's been fighting for equality every since.

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Michael Jordan

Even if you know nothing about sports, you probably know that Michael Jordan is easily one of the greatest athletes of all time. During his prolific career in the NBA, Jordan won six championships, five MVP awards, and played in 14 All-Star games. He also had a brief career in baseball and was easily the best part of Space Jam.

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Lorne Michaels

You have Lorne Michaels to thank for the existence of Saturday Night Live, but the producer and screenwriter is also responsible for the existence of quite a few of your other favorite shows. Over the course of his career, he's won 13 Emmy Awards — so far.

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Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson is one of the greatest actors alive, whether on stage or screen. She has both two Emmy Awards and a Tony Award, and has received the Kennedy Center Honors.

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Bill and Melinda Gates

This superstar pair founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to help people all over the world have access to a better life, doing incredible work in fighting global poverty and access to education. Over the past 16 years, they have awarded over $36 billion in grants.

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Richard Garwin

Richard Garwin is a polymath physicist and inventor who has over 45 U.S. patents. He was a pioneer in his many fields and made significant contributions to math and science that are still being used today. He has also been an adviser to multiple presidents.

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Bruce Springsteen

Easily one of the most recognizable musical artists of our time, Bruce Springsteen has helped make music what it is today. Along with the E Street Band, he is an inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Margaret Hamilton

While you may not recognize her now, you've probably seen a younger Margaret Hamilton on your Twitter feed, standing next to a pile of all the coding she did for NASA's Apollo command. The mathematician and computer scientist not only led the team at NASA, but later went on to make major contributions into modern software innovation and engineering.

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Vin Scully

Vin Scully just retired this year after serving as a sports broadcaster for 67 seasons for the Brooklyn then Los Angeles Dodgers. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.

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Robert Redford

Robert Redford is not only a living legend for his work in front of the camera, but also for his work behind it. The actor and director has received an Academy Award for Best Director and the award for Lifetime Achievement. He also founded the Sundance Institute in 1981.

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Maya Lin

Artist and designer Maya Lin is one of the most well-known people in her field, and designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. She is also known for her work as an environmentalist.

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Robert De Niro

With one of the most memorable careers of all time, Robert De Niro has rightfully been nominated for an Academy Award seven times, winning twice. He has also received the Kennedy Center Honors.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an NBA legend, and the league's all-time leading scorer. Since retiring, he has been an extremely vocal advocate for social justice, and is easily one of the most intelligent and eloquent humans around.

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Newt Minow

Newt Minow has spent his life in public service, and served in the U.S. Army before starting his long career as an attorney. He served as Chairman of the Federal Communications Committee starting from 1961, and since leaving, has maintained a private law practice.

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Eduardo Padrón

President of Miami Dade College Eduardo Padrón has been an advocate for education access and equality for decades. In particular, he has done considerable work at the MDC to make higher-education more affordable for everyone.

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Frank Gehry

World-renowned architect Frank Gehry has designed some of the most iconic buildings in the U.S. and around the globe.

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Elouise Cobell (Posthumous)

Elouise Cobell was a fierce advocate for Native American right and a Blackfeet Nation community leader. She also co-founded the Native American Bank, and paved the way for many Indigenous women to seek leadership roles in their communities.

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Grace Hopper (Posthumous)

Known as "the first lady of software," Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was a pioneer in the field of computer programming and computer science, eventually creating the world's first compiler amongst many other things. She also served as a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve during World War II.

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