(USNewsMag.com) – For the first time since President Joe Biden took office the ceremony honoring the 2021 National Humanities Medals and the National Medal of Arts award winners was held March 21.
The National Medal of Arts is America’s highest award given to artists or to those advancing the arts in the country. Twelve artists were honored this year. Designer Vera Wang, songwriter Gladys Knight and “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen were awarded the medal this year. Actress Mindy Kaling and actor and comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus were also among this year’s recipients.
Other recipients included Fred Eychaner, who is a philanthropist. Antonio Martorell-Cardona and Judith Francisca Baca who are both artists. Joan Shigekawa who is a cultural grant maker. Two institutions, The Billie Holiday Theatre and the International Association of Blacks in Dance, also received the medal this year. Jose Feliciano who wrote and sang “Feliz Navidad ” was also among the recipients.
The 2021 National Humanities Medals is awarded for work that deepens the understanding of humanities to individuals or groups. In 1997 the medal was inaugurated. This year, 11 National Humanities Medals were presented. Amy Tan, who is the author of “The Joy Luck Club,” received an award. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, who is Spelman College’s first female African American president, was a recipient.
Walter Isaacson, author and former chair and CEO of CNN, was also awarded the medal this year. A finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Ann Patchett, received the award. Richard Blanco, who delivered a poem during the second presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, and Tara Westover, who is a memoirist, both received the award.
Henrietta Mann, a Native American academic, Colson Whitehead, a novelist, Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Native America Calling, a call-in public radio program, and Earl Lewis, a historian, were also among the recipients.
In September 2022, Biden awarded Sir Elton John a National Humanities Medal.
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