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05/14/09 11:47 AM EST

Clinton to speak at Beacon Awards

Ali, Aaron and Crosby will be honored for contributions

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the Major League Baseball Beacon Awards Luncheon during Civil Rights Game Weekend in Cincinnati, MLB announced Wednesday.

Notables Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron and Bill Cosby will be honored with the MLB Beacon of Change, Life and Hope, respectively, at the Luncheon, which will be held at the Duke Energy Center on June 20.

Ali, Aaron and Cosby were also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.

"Bill Clinton's long record of promoting civil rights makes him the perfect keynote speaker to honor such a distinguished group," MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said in the news release about the former president, who joined him and Rachel Robinson at Shea Stadium on April 15, 1997, as MLB declared the permanent retirement of Jackie Robinson's No. 42.

"Our award recipients this year are remarkably accomplished, and it is a great honor for MLB to recognize their achievements, which have helped change this country for the better."

That Saturday, Emmy Award winner Soledad O'Brien, host of CNN's "Special Investigators Unit" and "CNN Presents: Black in America," will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event, with proceeds benefiting the MLB Urban Youth Foundation, the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

The Civil Rights Game will be played between the Reds and White Sox at Great American Ball Park in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest that will be broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.com. It will be the first regular-season Civil Rights Game after two preseason exhibitions in Memphis, Tenn.

In addition to the game, there will be a roundtable discussion at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Friday and, following the Luncheon on Saturday afternoon, a youth summit at Cincinnati's Fountain Square.

The MLB Beacon of Change is "given to an individual who impacts society through his words and actions," the Beacon of Life recognizes "an individual whose life is emblematic of the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement," and the Beacon of Hope is for a person "who influences our future through his support of children," according to the release.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Luncheon and Civil Rights Game, visit www.mlb.com/civilrightsgame.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.