The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, awarded to individuals who have made especially exemplary contributions to national interests of the United States, world peace, or other significant public or private cultural endeavors. There will be 13 awardees this year.
"These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation. They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place. I look forward to recognizing them with this award," said President Obama.
In addition to earning the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved, Morrison also became the first Black woman to receive a Nobel Prize in 1993. The president's statement hails Morrison as "an author who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."