President Obama honored 13 men and women on Tuesday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest honor.
Among those honored were the following Americans who made significant contributions to the lives of women, people of color and ethnic minorities.
Toni Morrison, a novelist, was the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize. Her book, Beloved, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987.
Former Assistant Attorney General John Doar played a prominent role in many civil rights cases in the 1960s.
Sociologist Gordon Hirabayashi, who died in January, was best known for his resistance to the Japanese American internment camps during World War II.
Civil rights and labor activist Dolores Huerta worked with Cesar Chavez to cofound the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.
Pat Summitt was the head coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team for 38 years. Summitt, who is the winngest NCAA basketball coach of all time, stepped down earlier this year from her position after she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease in 2011.
Madeleine Albright was the first female to serve as U.S. secretary of state under President Clinton's administration.
This article is part of our Next America: Communities project, which is supported by a grant from Emerson Collective.
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