March 2, 2017
Press contact: PICA@JFKLFoundation.org
Former President Barack H. Obama Announced as Recipient of 2017 Centennial John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award
Boston MA –The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation today announced that former President Barack H. Obama will receive the 2017 Centennial John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™ for his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage in a new century. The prestigious award will be presented by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, at a ceremony on May 7, 2017 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of President Kennedy’s birth.
“President Kennedy called on a new generation of Americans to give their talents to the service of the country,” said Ambassador Kennedy. “With exceptional dignity and courage, President Obama has carried that torch into our own time, providing young people of all backgrounds with an example they can emulate in their own lives.”
“Faced with unrelenting political opposition, President Obama has embodied the definition of courage that my grandfather cites in the opening lines of Profiles in Courage: grace under pressure,” said Schlossberg. “Throughout his two terms in office, he represented all Americans with decency, integrity, and an unshakeable commitment to the greater good.”
“It’s been more than half a century since John F. 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,” said President Obama. “It was a call to citizenship as true as the words of our founding and a conviction that helped guide me to public service as a younger man – a belief in the possibilities of our democracy and the power of what we, the people, can do together.
“Even today, 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. Part of that is thanks to an extraordinary family that continues to light the fire of imagination and plant the seed of noble ambition in the minds of each new generation of Americans. Like so many Americans, I am grateful for the Kennedy family’s legacy of service. And I am deeply humbled to receive the Profile in Courage Award.”
In 2008, Barack H. Obama secured an historic victory as the first African American elected to the office of President of the United States. On key issues throughout his two-term presidency, Obama put policy above politics, leading the United States to extraordinary achievements benefiting humankind for generations to come. Those achievements, such as expanding health security for millions of Americans, restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, and leading a landmark international accord to combat climate change, stand as a monument to political courage in the modern age.
The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™ is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. The award is named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers, incurring the wrath of constituents or powerful interest groups, by taking principled stands for unpopular positions. The opening lines state: "This is a book about that most admirable of human virtues – courage. 'Grace under pressure,' Ernest Hemingway defined it.”
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the Profile in Courage Award™ in 1989 to honor President Kennedy’s commitment and contribution to public service, and to celebrate his May 29th birthday. This year, the award will be presented on May 7, 2017 at the Foundation’s annual May Dinner gala, which is chaired by GE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt. The event is the cornerstone of a year-long centennial celebration spearheaded by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library aimed at inspiring new generations to find meaning and inspiration in the enduring values that formed the heart of the Kennedy presidency.
The Profile in Courage Award is represented by a sterling-silver lantern symbolizing a beacon of hope. The lantern was designed by Edwin Schlossberg and crafted by Tiffany & Co. Previous recipients include former U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush; former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords; U.S. Senator John McCain; Liberian peace activist and Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee; U.S. Representative John Lewis; and former California State Senator and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
The recipients of this prestigious award for political courage are selected by a distinguished bipartisan committee of national, political, and community leaders. Albert R. Hunt, columnist for Bloomberg View, chairs the 14-member Profile in Courage Award Committee. Committee members are Christopher Dodd, former U.S. Senator (D-Connecticut) and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America; former U.S. Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-Maryland); Kenneth R. Feinberg, Chairman of the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona); Adam Frankel, former speechwriter to President Barack Obama, now Senior Director, CEO Communications at PepsiCo; U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); Antonia Hernandez, president and chief executive officer of the California Community Foundation; former U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC); Elaine Jones, director-counsel emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; Shari Redstone, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Viacom Inc. and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of CBS Corporation; Jack Schlossberg, grandson of John F. Kennedy; and David M. Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization founded in 1984 to provide financial support, staffing, and creative resources for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Kennedy Presidential Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.
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