President Obama announced on Monday afternoon the names of 19 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among them Abner Mikva, former professor of law at Northwestern. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the United States, honoring those who make "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Mikva served in all three branches of government over the course of his career. From 1969 to 1979, he represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his tenure as a representative, Mikva taught at Northwestern’s School of Law from 1973 to 1975.
Then he became judge – later chief judge – on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In 1994, he joined White House Counsel under former President Bill Clinton’s administration
Following his career in government, Mikva founded MikvaChallenge in 1998, a civic-learning initiative designed to increase youth involvement in the electoral process through three program areas: “Youth Policy Making,” “Electoral Engagment” and “Community Problem Solving.” The program continues today.
“I look forward to presenting these nineteen bold, inspiring Americans with our Nation’s highest civilian honor,” Obama said in a press release. “From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world.”
The awards ceremony will take place Nov. 24 at the White House.