Obama to award Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16

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President Barack Obama will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including political ally Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, tennis legend Billie Jean King and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

The White House announced the list of recipients Thursday.

The medals are the first to be awarded by Obama and they represent the country’s highest honor for a civilian. Obama will present the awards at a ceremony on Aug. 12. Other names on the list are: Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking, the last living Plains Indian war chief and author Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow and civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery. Former Rep. Jack Kemp, who died in May, will receive a posthumous award.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.