Xavier University of Louisiana President Norman C. Francis is among this year’s recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S civilian award, President George W. Bush has announced.
Among those being honored at a White House ceremony on Dec. 15 are the first Black Major League Baseball coach and the King of Blues.
The recipients include:
-Ruth Johnson Colvin. The literacy advocate has traveled the globe to help people learn reading and language skills.
– Norman C. Francis. The president of Xavier University of Louisiana for nearly 40 years, he has also played a lead role in helping the people of the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Katrina.
– Paul Johnson. The British historian and journalist is being honored for writings that have “captivated and educated people around the world.” He holds America in special regard, calling the creation of our nation “the greatest of all human adventures.”
– B.B. King. The singer and guitarist is considered the King of Blues and an American legend.
– Joshua Lederberg. The Nobel Prize winner for his work in bacterial genetics had also helped develop advanced computer technology, worked with NASA in the search for life on Mars, and been a scientific adviser to national policymakers.
– David McCullough. The noted author and historian is considered a foremost expert on the American presidency.
– Norman Y. Mineta. The former transportation secretary, appointed to that job by Bush, became the longest serving person in the position. He also served as a mayor, a congressman and as President Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary during his career in public service.
– John “Buck” O’Neil. The former professional baseball player in the Negro Leagues was the first black coach in Major League Baseball and a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He died earlier this year.
– William Safire. The writer and commentator is being honored for polishing use of the English language and elevating the debates of the day.
– Natan Sharansky. The former prisoner of the Soviet regime, punished at the time for advancing religious liberty and human rights, has continued to champion freedom. He had previously been invited to the White House by Bush to discuss his book, “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.” He is a former Israeli Cabinet minister.
The Medal of Freedom was established by President Harry Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II. The award was reinstated by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished service.
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