WASHINGTON, DC – On October 20, 2011, President Obama will welcome to the White House the 13 recipients of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. (the highest being the Presidential Medal of Freedom) “This year’s recipients of the Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” said President Obama. “They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of our appreciation.”
After observing LA gang members stop at a Hollywood market to listen to a kid playing Brahms on a small violin, Margaret Martin realized those gang members would rather be doing what the kid was doing, but would never have the chance. She decided to dedicate her life to making quality arts education available to those in the most underserved, gang reduction zones of Los Angeles, and founded the Harmony Project in 2001. The organization has provided instruments and tuition-free group and private music lessons to thousands of children in Los Angeles who would otherwise have no access to classical music. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for replacing violence in children’s lives with music.