By Dave Boyer - The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2014

Actress Meryl Streep, singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder and the three civil rights workers murdered 50 years ago for attempting to register Mississippi blacks to vote were among the 19 people honored by President Obama with the Medal of Freedom Monday at a White House ceremony Monday.

Mr. Obama bestowed the nation’s highest civilian award to civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, “freedom riders” who were murdered as they worked on voter education and registration in Mississippi. Surviving family members accepted the medals on their behalf at the event in the East Room.

Mr. Obama said the three young men, two white and one black, “could not have known the impact they would have on the civil rights movement.” Outrage over their deaths contributed to Congress passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“In that Freedom Summer, these three Americans refused to sit on thesidelines,” he said.

Seven members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted in the deaths. Mr. Obama noted that the “lead perpetrator,” Edgar Ray Killen, wasn’t convicted until 2005.