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These black legends set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Cicely Tyson, Diana Ross and Michael Jordan have given us black excellence for decades

Resilience. Survival. Perseverance. Change. These four words represent the four black legends who make up a quadrant of 21 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 22.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Cicely Tyson, Diana Ross and Michael Jordan exemplify black excellence. The four living legends are some of the trailblazers who paved the way for many others in sports, literature, theater, music and film. Their names and brands are still recognized and respected by many in America and beyond.

Their names ring loud and President Barack Obama will make sure they are honored. On Wednesday, he named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to those who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

“It’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” Obama said. “From scientists, philanthropists and public servants, to activists, athletes and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships and the Milwaukee Bucks to another. During his career, Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time NBA MVP and a 19-time NBA All-Star. Before joining the NBA, he was a star player at UCLA, leading the Bruins to three consecutive NCAA championships. Besides his legendary basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross has had an iconic career spanning more than 50 years in the entertainment industry in music, film, television, theater and fashion. Ross is an Academy Award nominee, inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Grammy Awards’ highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross was a recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors. She said her greatest legacy is her five wonderful children.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards, and is currently the principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets. During his career, he won six championships, five MVP awards and appeared in 14 All-Star games.

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson has performed on the stage, on television and on the silver screen. She has won two Emmy Awards and a Tony Award, and is known for her performances in Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and The Help. In 2013, she returned to the stage with The Trip to Bountiful, and was awarded the Tony Award for best leading actress. Tyson received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

Other prestigious recipients of the award will include Elouise Cobell, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Richard Garwin, Bill and Melinda Gates, Frank Gehry, Margaret H. Hamilton, Tom Hanks, Grace Hopper, Maya Lin, Lorne Michaels, Newt Minow, Eduardo Padrón, Robert Redford, Vin Scully and Bruce Springsteen.

This event will be streamed live at: www.whitehouse.gov/live.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.