UPDATE: Kentucky author Wendell Berry awarded National Humanities Medal

President Barack Obama awarded renowned Kentucky author and environmental activist Wendell Berry the National Humanities Medal on Wednesday afternoon.

Berry, 76, joined 19 other recipients of the 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal at the White House to accept the award.

Other 2010 recipients included authors Harper Lee and Joyce Carol Oates, singer James Taylor and actress Meryl Streep.

Berry, a farmer who lives in Henry County, is the author of more than 40 books.

The White House release said Berry is receiving the award for achievements as a poet, novelist, farmer and conservationist, and for his career “exploring our relationship with the land and community.”

“In a nation as big as ours, as diverse as ours,” Obama said, “what the people we honor here today remind us of is that kernel of ourselves that connects to everyone else and allows us to get out of ourselves, to see through somebody else’s eyes, to step in their shoes.”

Berry was a member of the group “Kentucky Rising,” which staged a weekend-long sit-in at the Kentucky State Capitol Feb. 11 through Feb. 14 to protest irresponsible mining practices.

He removed some of his personal papers from UK in December 2009 to protest the naming of the Wildcat Coal Lodge, a new dorm for men’s basketball players.

The awards event took place at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday in the East Room of the White House.

Read more about Wendell Berry:

Sit-in, then sleep-in at Capitol

Wendell Berry reflects on removal of papers

Sit-in ends with rally; protesters encouraged by supporter turnout

I wish he had rejected this medal.  It would have done America good if Mr. Berry had refused to stand with Mr. Obama.

Insn’t it time that Wendell Berry be awarded a Nobel Prize? He represents not only the best of Kentucky (in huge contrast to the shame our coal, politics and sometimes, basketball bring to oor state) but also the best of our society. Joyce Evans

.History will prove that this great Kentucky and American Hero/Patriot’s legacy will last long into the future. Way after the Kentucky Coal and Basketball industries have perished.