Society

Obama Will Receive The JFK Award

| by Robert Fowler

Former President Barack Obama has been announced as the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for 2017. Obama will accept the honor in May 2017, marking the centennial of the late president's birth. The event may mark Obama's first public appearance since leaving office.

On March 2, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced Obama as the 2017 recipient of the award, an honor established in 1989 to recognize lawmakers who demonstrate acts of putting the public good over political expedience.

Jackson Schlossberg, the grandson of the late President Kennedy, released a statement praising Obama for his two terms in the White House.

"Our country owes a debt of gratitude to President Obama, not just for the many important policy achievements made during his tenure but also for the example of leadership he provided all of us, which we may draw upon in the years to come," Schlossberg said, according to CNN.

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Obama's selection was decided by a bipartisan committee chaired by Bloomberg columnist Al Hunt. The committee broke from tradition by awarding Obama not for a single act but for his entire career, Buzzfeed News reports.

Hunt stated that the 2017 committee decided to make the exception because they wanted to "do something different this year if we could. We thought, 'Okay, this is different.'"

The Kennedy Foundation released a statement explaining that the award would go to Obama for his efforts to expand "health security for millions of Americans, restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and leading a landmark accord to combat climate change."

Obama is the third Commander-in-Chief to be given the Profile in Courage Award. Former President Gerald R. Ford had received the honor for his decision to pardon former President R. Nixon, while former President George H.W. Bush also was given the award for his politically costly decision to raise taxes to combat a deficit.

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Obama released a statement stating that the announcement left him "deeply humbled."

"[Kennedy] asked us to cast aside our narrow self-interest and take up the chase of a greater ambition: our collective capacity to do big things, especially when it's hard," Obama said. "Amidst the noisy and too often trivial pursuits of the politics of our time, it's a summons to service that rings as loudly as ever."

Obama has not made a public appearance since leaving office. The former president has been on an extended vacation with his family. On Feb. 28, Penguin Random House announced that it would publish two books penned by both Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, with a portion of the proceeds set to be given to charity, NPR reports.

Obama will also be involved in the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, aiming to push back on district gerrymandering. The organization is chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder.

On Feb. 28, Holder told reports that Obama will in the near future "be a more visible part of the effort."

"He's coming," Holder said, according to Politico. "And he's ready to roll."

Sources: Buzzfeed News, CNN, NPR, Politico / Photo Credit: Erik Drost/Flickr

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