WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is awarding the nation's highest civilian honor to 19 artists, activists, public servants, scientists and others.

The distinguished and high-achieving group includes actress Meryl Streep, Ethel Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder and Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who is the longest-serving member of Congress. Dingell is retiring at the end of the year.

Others receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom at Monday's White House ceremony are composer Stephen Sondheim, NBC journalist Tom Brokaw and author Isabel Allende.

Obama is awarding posthumous medals to six individuals, including James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

The civil rights workers were killed in 1964 as they participated in a historic voter registration drive in Mississippi.