Former President Bill Clinton is headed back to the White House — just for a day — and Oprah is coming, too.
Clinton and Oprah Winfrey will be among 16 people that President Barack Obama will venerate later this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday. They’ll join other prominent people to be honored this year, including musicians, scientists, activists — even an astronaut.
Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy created the modern version of the medal — the highest honor the U.S. bestows on civilians — with the stroke of a pen to an executive order. In the five decades since, more than 500 people have been recognized for contributions to society of all stripes.
"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.
Winfrey’s career as an American broadcaster, actress and activist has spanned decades. Her philanthropic efforts have been focused largely on education and creating opportunities for women and girls in the U.S. and in Africa.