Medals of Freedom Will Go to Milk, Kennedy, Poitier

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2009 2:15 PM CDT
In this Sept. 20, 1973 file photo, Billie Jean King raises her arms after defeating Bobby Riggs.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – This year's Medal of Freedom recipients share a capacity to change the world, President Obama said today in naming the eclectic group. Among the 16 honorees are Sen. Ted Kennedy, slain gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, actor Sidney Poitier, tennis great Billie Jean King, and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds," Obama said. “Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the choice of Milk, saying “it brings great pride to San Franciscans that Harvey Milk will receive this award posthumously. Harvey lived his entire life to create opportunity for others.” (Read more Harvey Milk stories.)