WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including political ally Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, tennis legend Billie Jean King and retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
The White House announced the list of recipients Thursday.
The medals, representing the nation's highest honor for a civilian, are the first to be awarded by Obama. He will present them at a White House ceremony on Aug. 12.
Other names on the list are: Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking, civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery, and entertainers Sidney Poitier and Chita Rivera.
Former Rep. Jack Kemp, who died in May, and gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978, will receive posthumous awards.
Accomplished in fields ranging from sports and art to science and medicine to politics and public poli