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Barack Obama Named Recipient of JFK Profile in Courage Award

Image: President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama walks toward Marine One while departing from the White House, on Nov. 2, 2016. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama was named the 2017 winner of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Thursday for carrying on his fellow Democrat's legacy.

"President Kennedy called on a new generation of Americans to give their talents to the service of the country," Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, said in a statement. "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."

Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, will present Obama with the award May 7 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Obama tweeted he is "humbled" by the recognition.

The award is presented annually by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. It is named for Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Profiles in Courage." The book tells the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.

"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," Schlossberg said. "Throughout his two terms in office, he represented all Americans with decency, integrity, and an unshakeable commitment to the greater good."

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Obama is being recognized for "his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage in a new century," the foundation said, citing the expansion of health care options for millions, restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and leadership on an international climate change agreement.

The award has been given out annually since 1989. Last year's winner was Democratic Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Obama is the third former U.S. president to earn the award, joining Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. Other winners include U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., former Ukraine President Victor Yushchenko and former U.S. Rep. Carl Elliott Sr., D-Ala.