Jack Kemp '57 Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
The late Jack Kemp '57 is one of 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, President Barack Obama '83 announced today. Kemp and the other honorees, who come from the fields of politics, the arts, science, sports, and human rights, were chosen for their work as agents of change.
"These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds," President Obama said in a statement. "Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way. Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive."
President Obama will present the awards at a White House ceremony on Aug. 12.
Kemp, the Occidental quarterback and AFL football star whose pioneering support of supply-side economic theory played a key role in the modern conservative revival, died May 2 of cancer at his Bethesda, Md. home. He was 73.
After a standout 13-year career in professional football with the Buffalo Bills, Kemp went on to serve nine terms as a Congressman from upstate New York, ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for the first President Bush and was Bob Dole's vice presidential running mate in the 1996 presidential race.
"In Congress and as a cabinet secretary, Kemp was a self-described 'bleeding heart conservative' who worked to encourage development in underserved urban communities," the White House said in a statement. "In the years leading up to his death, Kemp continued seeking new solutions, raising public attention about the challenge of poverty, and working across party lines to improve the lives of Americans and others around the world."
Other medal recipients are:
- Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of the breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure
- Pedro Jose Greer, M.D., medical humanitarian
- Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist
- U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy
- Billie Jean King, tennis player and women's sports advocate
- Rev. Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader
- Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, author of seminal works in Native American history and culture
- Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official from a major U.S. city
- Sandra Day O'Connor, first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court
- Sidney Poitier, actor
- Chita Rivera, actor and dancer
- Mary Robinson, first female president of Ireland
- Janet Davison Rowley, M.D., human geneticist
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
- Dr. Muhammad Yunus, global leader in anti-poverty efforts and micro-loan pioneer