This week, President Obama announced the winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. Out of the 15 recipients, five are women: Maya Angelou, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Gerda Weissmann Klein, Sylvia Mendez, and Jean Kennedy Smith. There will an official presentation ceremony in early 2011.
According to the White House, the Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Former President George H.W. Bush is being honored…I’m sure because of his hard work to achieve world peace :/
This group represents a diverse cross-section of women across politics, arts, and activism (and in some cases, the three are combined). Though the group selected is overwhelmingly men, there are some notable non-female winners whose work has supported all citizens including civil rights pioneer Congressman John Lewis, founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, John H. Adams; and John J. Sweeney, current President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO.
In honor of these powerful and fierce lady leaders, it only feels appropriate to recognize ourselves as Maya Angelou’s brand of phenomenal women.