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Obama to honor Oprah with Medal of Freedom

Journal Staff Report | 8/8/2013, 5:58 p.m.
Television legend Oprah Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton will be among 16 people that President Barack Obama will honor ...
Oprah Winfrey

Television legend Oprah Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton will be among 16 people that President Barack Obama will honor later this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday.

Winfrey and Clinton will join other prominent people to be honored, including activists, scientists, and musicians.

Winfrey will be honored for her career as an American broadcaster, actress, activist and philanthropist. The Oprah Winfrey Show was the highest rated talk show in America for 25 years. Winfrey’s philanthropic efforts have been focused largely on education and creating opportunities for women and girls in the U.S. and in Africa. She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

Sixteen honorees will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- from Obama at a ceremony to be scheduled later this year.

"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," Obama said in a statement.

This is the 50th anniversary of the executive order that President John F. Kennedy signed establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Others who will receive the medal:

—Daniel Inouye, former senator from Hawaii, World War II veteran and the first Japanese American in Congress. Inouye will receive the award posthumously.

—Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Washington Post who oversaw the newspaper's coverage of Watergate.

—Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. Ride will receive the award posthumously.

—Richard Lugar, former senator from Indiana who worked to reduce the global nuclear threat.

—Gloria Steinem, writer and prominent women's rights activist.

—Ernie Banks, baseball player who hit more than 500 home runs and played 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs.

—Bayard Rustin, civil and gay rights activist and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin will receive the award posthumously.

—Daniel Kahneman, psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

—Loretta Lynn, country music singer.

—Maria Molina, chemist and environmental scientist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

—Arturo Sandoval, Grammy-winning jazz musician who was born in Cuba and defected to the U.S.

—Dean Smith, head coach of University of North Carolina's basketball team for 36 years.

—Patricia Wald, first woman appointed to U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and became the court's chief judge.

—C.T. Vivian, civil rights leader and minister.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.