Denzel Washington’s list of accomplishments now includes the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Friday, President Joe Biden announced the 17 honorees. The medal is awarded annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to American society, culture, politics, or world peace. Every July, the awards are presented in a ceremony at the White House. Washington is the only actor or entertainment figure to receive an award this year, though sports figures Simone Biles and Megan Rapinoe are also medal winners. Other recipients include religious figures Sister Simone Campbell and Father Alexander Karloutsos, political leaders Gabrielle Giffords and Alan Simpson, activists Fred Gray, Diane Nash, and Ral Yzaguirre, the former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville, Julieta Garca, a healthcare worker, Constitution Literacy and National Unity Project founder Khizr Khan, and U.S. military leader Wilma Vaught. Posthumously, Steve Jobs, John McCain, and Richard Trumka will be honored.
Washington is one of his generation’s most renowned actors, directors, and producers. In addition to receiving eight nominations (including this year for “The Tragedy of Macbeth”), he has won two Oscars for the films “Glory” and “Training Day” and been awarded two Oscars. Among his other accolades are a Tony Award for his performance in the 2010 revival of “Fences” and a Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award (an honorary Golden Globe Award) for his contributions to the entertainment industry in 2016. The New York Times named Washington the greatest actor of the 21st century in 2020. On July 7, the Medal of Freedom recipients will be honored.