The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced Thursday that former President Barack Obama will receive this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
The award got its name from the title of Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage,” which earned a Pulitzer Prize.
The award was created in 1989. It’s given to “public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences.”
The foundation said Obama demonstrated that courage with his push to make the Affordable Care Act law and with his leadership in ratifying the Paris Agreement, a global effort to combat climate change.
A diverse and bi-partisan 14-person committee selects the award recipients.
In a statement, Obama said: “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. 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. … And I am deeply humbled to receive the Profile in Courage Award.”
President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and her son, Jack Schlossberg, will present Obama with the award. Caroline Kennedy served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan under Obama.
“President Kennedy called on a new generation of Americans to give their talents to the service of the country,” Caroline Kennedy said. “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.”
Schlossberg said, “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. Throughout his two terms in office, he represented all Americans with decency, integrity and an unshakable commitment to the greater good.”
Obama will be the third U.S. president — after Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush — to receive the award. Other past recipients include former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Rep. John Lewis, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Obama will receive the award during the foundation’s gala on May 7 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.