May 3, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Yeoh are among Biden's 2024 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

A black and white photo of Michelle Yeoh waving as she walks

Michelle Yeoh attends the 96th annual Academy Awards in March 2024. Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Rep. Nancy Pelosi and actress Michelle Yeoh are among the politicians, philanthropists, entertainers, activists and pioneers recognized by the White House's flagship award.

Why it matters: The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the U.S.

  • "They are the pinnacle of leadership in their fields," the White House said in a statement. "They consistently demonstrated over their careers the power of community, hard work, and service."

Zoom in: Pelosi was the 52nd House speaker and has represented San Francisco in Congress for more than 36 years.

  • "She has shaped legislative agendas and Democratic priorities for decades," the White House said.
  • Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian woman to receive the Oscar for best actress for the 2022 film "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

The big picture: The White House awarded the designation to 19 people this year.

  • Entrepreneur and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Vice President Al Gore and former Secretary of State John Kerry were recognized for their climate contributions.
  • Swimmer Katie Ledecky was recognized for being the most decorated female swimmer in history.
  • Several activists were recognized, including Father Gregory Boyle, Jesuit Catholic priest and founder of a gang intervention program; Medgar Evers, a late WWII veteran who led the fight against segregation in Mississippi; and Opal Lee, an educator who advocated to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
  • Other politicians receiving the medal include Rep. James Clyburn, former assistant Democratic leader and majority whip in the House of Representatives and Sen. Elizabeth Dole, former labor and transportation secretary.

What's next: The awards will be presented at the White House on May 3.

Go deeper: Simone Biles becomes youngest Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient

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