Bill Clinton and Oprah among recipients of highest civilian award
August 8th, 2013
03:49 PM ET
8 years ago

Bill Clinton and Oprah among recipients of highest civilian award

(CNN) – On the fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Barack Obama will award the honor to a group that includes former President Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, the billionaire media mogul.

First established by President John F. Kennedy, the medals are the highest award given by the government to civilians. Clinton and Oprah are among the sixteen recipients of this year's awards that were announced by the White House on Thursday.

"The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours," Obama wrote in a statement along with the list of award recipients. "This year's honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation's gratitude."

Others on the roster include two former lawmakers – former Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, who was defeated by a Republican challenger in a primary contest in 2012, and the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a Democrat who died late last year.

Aside from Winfrey, the media world is also represented on the list of honorees by Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post editor who oversaw the paper's coverage of the Watergate scandal.

Representing American scientific achievement will be Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space, who will be honored posthumously, and Mario Molina, a chemist who discovered how certain pollutants deplete the ozone layer.

Gloria Steinem , the women's rights activist and writer, will also be honored, as will civil rights leaders
Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian, who participated in freedom rides and sit-ins, and Bayard Rustin, a gay black man who fought for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King Jr.

"Coal Miner's Daughter" singer Loretta Lynn will receive the medal, as will jazz legend Arturo Sandoval.

In sports, awards will go to Ernie Banks, a baseball hall of famer who played 19 seasons for the Chicago Cubs, and Dean Smith, the longtime head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team.

Nobel prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman and appellate judge Patricia Wald will also receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Oprah Winfrey • President Obama
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Malory Archer

    And rightwing heads will begin exploding in 3.... 2.... 1.....

    August 8, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. MaryM

    Congrats to Bill Clinton and Ophra

    August 8, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    Nice list. Great Americans, all.

    August 8, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. Necronn99

    What a JOKE!

    August 8, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Sniffit


    Please proceed.

    August 8, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. kgala

    Well Okay. But Oprah does not make sense.

    August 8, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "Well Okay. But Oprah does not make sense."
    Ha! Oprah pioneered a new talk show format, and by doing so revolutionized and revived daytime television.

    August 8, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. Data Driven

    Sniffit, the tearbucket thing cracks me up every time. Man, that's good.

    August 8, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. the hippies were right

    What!! No James Inhofe?

    August 8, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. emskadittle

    If i could I would vote for Bill again

    August 8, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Kevin

    Oprah gets a Medal of Freedom? Who is next Kim Kardashian? 8 years of a reckless cowboy and now 8 years of a guy who really just wants to be a celebrity.

    August 8, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Sniffit, the tearbucket thing cracks me up every time. Man, that's good."

    Hehe, I gotta keep stock Schadenfreude Flakes stay crunchy in conservative tears.

    August 8, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Joe

    Big deal, Obama just of the Nobel prize just by asking. The irony is that the person presenting the award would never even merit the same award.

    August 8, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Steveo

    @Rudy NYC

    Steveo wrote:

    You said blacks will remember him for selecting a black running mate. I said that is not enough to vote for somebody. Funny how YOU failed to bring up his Civil Rights record until just now. Kinda hard for me to respond to something that was not brought up.
    You're obviously lacking when it comes to NYC politics. Why was Spitzer choosing Paterson significant?

    Because almost all of the prominent minority leaders in NYC threw their support behind him. People like, first and foremost, former mayor David Dinkins, on whose staff Paterson had once served. !00 Black Officers and 100 Latino Officers, both of which are groups of active law enforcement officers that strive to smooth relations between the police and the communities. I would go on, but I hope you get the idea. Paterson had been State Senate Minority Leader for a few years when he was chosen. It was an historic moment, dude. A minority was on the top of the Democratic ticket. ..... Silence.
    Thanks for the history lesson but like I said I left at 16, and that was back in 1974! Funny how NYC STILL shows up on my birth certificate, which indeed proves I am a native New Yorker! Interesting stuff, Rudy.. But don't make it appear I was down playing that history. Silence? Really?

    August 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. the hippies were right

    Sean Hannity? Rush? Aren't these two saving thousands from the reins of the evil socialist? Who voted? I didn't get to vote! Rick McDaniel, help me out here!

    August 8, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. the hippies were right

    Oh, Inhofe didn't make it because he isn't a civilian....yet.

    August 8, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. NC

    Congrats to all.

    August 8, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |