Barack Obama Receives JFK Profile In Courage Award: “We Need Courage To Stand Up To Hate”

Obama lamented that "politics remains filled with division and discord."

President Obama made a rare public appearance Sunday evening to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage award at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.

Number 44 spoke to the anxiety many have felt since November.

CJ Gunther-Pool/Getty Images

“I know that this feels like an uncertain and perilous time. Our politics remains filled with division and discord,” said Obama, all but naming Donald Trump.

“At such moments, courage is necessary,” he added. “At such moments, we need courage to stand up to hate, not just in others, but in ourselves. At such moments, we need courage to stand up to dogma, not just in others, but in ourselves.”

“Courage means not doing what is simply politically expedient but doing what [people] believe in their hearts is right,” he said, mirroring President Kennedy’s own words. “And this kind of courage is required of all of us.”

Former US president Barack Obama speaks to guests after receiving the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on May 7, 2017 at the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts.  / AFP PHOTO / Ryan McBride        (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)
RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama has made few appearances since leaving the White House in January. In selecting him for the award, the JFK Library Foundation praised Obama’s work in expanding health care, efforts now in jeopardy thanks to Republicans.

Caroline Kennedy, the late president’s daughter, presented Obama with the award. “Today, when many doubt the integrity of our elected leaders, this award is more important than ever.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery