President Obama has named Oprah Winfrey, Tennessee State University graduate, media mogul, philanthropist and award-winning actress among those receiving this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to individuals who have made “especially meritorious” contributions to the security or national interest of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Winfrey, a 1987 graduate of TSU best known for creating the multiple-award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, with a net worth estimated at over $2 billion, was named among such notables as former president Bill Clinton; country music legend Loretta Lynn; the late Sally Ride, first female astronaut to travel to space; and former executive editor of The Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, considered one of the most respected newsmen of his generation.
TSU President Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover, called Winfrey’s preferment “a well deserved honor.”
“This is an extraordinary award for an extraordinary individual, and is a great accomplishment,” said Dr. Glover. “Ms. Winfrey’s contributions as a humanitarian, philanthropist and entrepreneur are unparalleled. What is more impressive is that she continues to encourage, empower, and educate America as a media mogul. We are truly honored to call her an alumna of this University and congratulate her on this once in a lifetime, prestigious award.”
In announcing this year’s recipients of the Medal of Freedom, President Obama referred to Winfrey and her fellow honorees as “men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours.”
“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,” the President said.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Executive Order signed by President John F. Kennedy establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Since that time, more than 500 ‘exceptional’ individuals have been awarded the Medal of Freedom.
Oprah Winfrey and the other 15 honorees will receive their awards at a ceremony later this year at the Kennedy Center.