WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, September 23, President Joseph R. Biden awarded Sir Elton John a National Humanities Medal following the musician’s concert on the White House lawn, “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme.”
The National Humanities Medal honors individuals and organizations whose work has deepened our nation’s understanding of and engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.
The evening concert honored healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, military families, and other everyday heroes. President Biden concluded the program by presenting the medal to a visibly overcome John “for moving our souls with his powerful voice in one of the most defining songbooks of all time.” He praised the latest medal recipient as “an enduring icon and advocate with absolute courage, who found purpose to challenge convention, shatter stigma, and advance the simple truth that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
In addition to being one of the best-selling artists of all time, the British musician is well known for his philanthropic efforts to support the global fight against HIV/AIDS. He is the founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has raised over $660 million to support HIV-related programs in 55 countries.
“Congratulations from the National Endowment for the Humanities to Sir Elton John on this distinguished honor,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “Through his music he has moved and energized people around the world and, through his advocacy and public work, brought hope and grace to the millions of individuals and families coping with HIV.”
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) manages the nomination process for the National Humanities Medal on behalf of the White House. Each year NEH invites nominations from individuals and organizations across the country. The National Council on the Humanities, NEH’s advisory body, reviews the nominations and makes recommendations to the NEH Chair. The Chair forwards her recommendations to the President, who selects the recipients.
The first National Humanities Medal was awarded in 1997. Since then, 195 have been bestowed—to 180 individuals and 15 organizations. A complete list of previous honorees is available at this link.
National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at neh.gov.