All Articles Tagged "Bill Clinton"

How Much Do You Really Know About The Clintons?

May 21st, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Bill Clinton

Lillie Harden (left) and President Clinton during the welfare reform bill signing event – AP

Listen, I have been trying to tell people this for years, but maybe if I say it in my Kanye West voice folks might hear me. Basically, *in my Kanye West voice* the Clintons do not care about Black people.

I know, I know. They were the first Black family until we got a real Black family in the White House. Yes, I know Bill Clinton can play the saxophone and he even once appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show. And yes, I get it, they are from the South and loves some collard greens and cornbread. But the truth of the matter is that when it comes to their track record on actual policies, particularly ones that have impacted the lives of the global Black community, the Clintons are just as white as a Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip sandwich.

As reported by Zaid Jilani in a post for Alternet entitled, “The Tragic End of the Woman Bill Clinton Exploited As Poster Child for Gutting Welfare“:

We are approaching the 20th anniversary of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act—also called “welfare reform”—which was passed by President Clinton working with the Republican-controlled Congress. This welfare reform law changed the terms of federal aid to the poor. Among other things, the law replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The new TANF program placed a strict time limit on how long the federal government will provide assistance to individual poor families and added various work requirements for recipients. The goal was to “end welfare as we know it,” which Clinton campaigned on in 1992.

The law was bitterly resisted by progressives, who argued it was effectively ending a safety net that had existed for poor families since the New Deal era. Several Clinton appointees actually quit the administration over welfare reform’s passage. But the outrage from the left not only failed to stop the passage of the law, it has proved incapable of changing the political culture enough to have the law reversed. In 2008, Sen. Hillary Clinton defended and strongly endorsed her husband’s welfare reform while on the campaign trail. “Welfare should have been a temporary waystation for people who needed immediate assistance,” she said. “It should not be considered an anti-poverty program. It simply did not work.” But for one woman, welfare reforms only made things worse. That woman was standing behind President Clinton when he signed the bill into law.

The woman in question is Lillie Harden, and during the early ’90s, she was Bill Clinton’s poster child for welfare reform. At the time, Harden, who was personally invited by Clinton to the welfare reform bill signing ceremony, had just gotten off of public assistance and found herself a job at a supermarket. As reported by Jilani, she became welfare reform’s biggest cheerleader. Harden told Clinton that the best part of being off of welfare was “When my boy goes to school and they say what does your mama do for a living, he can give an answer.”

It was undoubtedly a moment made out of Hallmark cards, mass produced by those in welfare-to-work programs. But then everyone moved on. Harden was never heard from again, until a book was published, which told a different story about Harden’s fate. As reported by Alternet:

Harden had a stroke in 2002 and wanted me to ferry a message back to Clinton, asking if he could help her get on Medicaid. She had received it on welfare, but had been rejected now, and she couldn’t afford her $450 monthly bill for prescription drugs. More sad than bitter, she said of her work: “It didn’t pay off in the end.”

Jilani writes that Alternet recently tried to reach out to Harden. Unfortunately, the news site discovered that she passed away last year at the age of 59. While the news site doesn’t say for sure if the lack of access to critical health care she once had been eligible for under the old system led to her early demise, it is safe to assume that the inability to afford her medications definitely exacerbated her illness.

The fate of Harden, as well as the thousands of others who struggle under the new system of public assistance, is only part of Bill Clinton’s untold legacy. Let’s for a moment talk about the weakening of the Glass-Steagall Act, which was put into place in the 1930s after the first Stock Market Crash to keep banks from engaging too much in securities activities. But as told by The Guardian, which reported a few years ago on newly disclosed documents in Clinton’s presidential library, the deregulation of the Act, which included allowing banks and investment banks to merge, was aggressively pushed by advisers to Bill Clinton.

The deregulation ultimately happened in 1999 when Congress, with Clinton’s support, passed the Financial Services Modernization Act. According to The Guardian, it unleashed “a wave of Wall Street consolidation that was later blamed for forcing taxpayers to spend billions bailing out the enlarged banks after the sub-prime mortgage crisis.” This mortgage crisis would not only almost bankrupt the nation, but would push Black unemployment into double digits, nearly twice the number of white unemployment.

Thanks, first Black President Clinton.

But the Clinton’s problematic relations with the global Black community don’t just end there. It was in 1997 that Clinton forced Haiti to drop tariffs on imported, subsidized U.S. rice. This cleared the way for the United States, particularly Clinton’s home state of Arkansas, to dump cheap rice in the developing country and make it difficult for small-scale farmers to compete in their own local markets. According to this article in the Foreign Policy, entitled “Subsidizing Starvation,” “The policy wiped out Haitian rice farming and seriously damaged Haiti’s ability to be self-sufficient.” Clinton would later apologize for the policy, calling it a “devil’s bargain.”

Not long after wreaking havoc on Haiti’s economy, the U.S. government, led by Clinton, tried to pretty much do the same thing in Africa and the Caribbean when briefly instituting sanctions against the EU for allegedly giving trade preferences to banana producers in former European colonies. The EU previously had an agreement with its former colonies to promote trade among its European countries as a form of reparations. However, after Carl Linder, former CEO of Chiquita Banana, made a generous donation to the National Democratic Party, things changed. Linder not only got an invite to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House, but Clinton also supported his efforts, along with other multinational banana companies efforts, to repeal the EU agreement by filing a complaint against the EU with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S. won the petition, and the EU was instructed to alter its rules in favor of the big conglomerates. The results would have a devastating effect on local banana farmers throughout the global Black Diaspora.

And then there is the Clintons’ current scandal in Haiti involving Hilary Clinton’s brother being added to the advisory board for a gold mining company. If you didn’t know, Bill Clinton is the current ambassador to Haiti, a role he took on shortly after the earthquake. And according to the Washington Post, “both Rodham and the chief executive of Delaware-based VCS Mining said they were introduced at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative — an offshoot of the Clinton Foundation that critics have long alleged invites a blurring of its charitable mission with the business interests of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their corporate donors.”

Now I am bringing all of this up because Hilary Clinton is running for office again. And while I won’t tell you all not to vote for her, I will say that folks better make her work hard for that vote, not just give it away because they are Democrats and allegedly the first Black family.

Serious Question: Can “The Other Woman” Ever Start Over With A Clean Slate?

March 31st, 2015 - By Alexandra Olivier
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Image Source: WENN.com

Image Source: WENN.com

I like to believe that we are not the sum of our mistakes or past situations. But as women, I’ve realized that we are hard on each other and play forgiveness close to the chest. In particular, we’re not too keen on playing nice when it comes to women who have been “the other woman.” They are rarely able to have their slates wiped clean by judgmental people outside of their love triangle, and they often walk around with a permanent marking (figuratively speaking of course) to remind them of their past transgressions.

Even after delivering a great TED Talk last week on cyber-bullying, which she says she was one of the first people to deal with, Monica Lewinsky was still referred to as “trash” by commenters online. As one woman put it, “I cannot forgive what she had done to the family, and I have no sympathy for the shame she had received. She is not innocent, the people who were innocent and being hurt are the child and the wife.”

Even a Heather Wilhem, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, questioned people looking at Lewinsky as something of a “hero”:

“…what does it say about our culture that, in certain circles, Lewinsky is now elevated to a mythical ‘victim’ status, a prototype of ‘slut-shaming’ and potentially even a new feminist champion?”

Even if a woman who was “the other woman” becomes the celebrated mistress-turned-wife, her wrongdoing is rarely forgotten.

Alicia Keys has had two kids with Swizz Beatz. They are arguably one of music’s most adorable couples and have a relationship worth gushing over. But to this day, some women haven’t forgotten how she found her prince charming. If we let Keys tell it, her relationship with the producer began “long after” he separated from ex-wife, Mashonda Tifrere–but she was telling a different story.

The songstress is classy, stunning, and when she isn’t making our ears happy, she is warming hearts worldwide with her community service efforts. She has even found a way to make peace and be friendly with Tifrere! Because of that, you would think people would cut her some slack.

But not all women are so lucky.

Whether it’s a sly comment under the breath, a side-eye cast after complimenting a family picture, or outright calling a spade a spade, it seems that women struggle to forgive and forget with other women.

And while we shade these other women, the men are hardly ever a part of the conversation. What about Swizz Beatz’s involvement in his supposed affair with Keys? Or Dwyane Wade? Or even former President Bill Clinton?

Why do we give the cold shoulder to mistresses, yet we allow these men – who play an even bigger role in these situations – to get away with it?

It’s hard for women to start over with a cheating scandal in their past. But assuming that this is the one and only time something like this has happened, we shouldn’t put a woman down permanently for one misstep. If the situation is in the past and all parties are moving forward, why can’t we allow her to open a new chapter in the story of her life?

We are too hard on ourselves and should afford the next woman – who is deserving – a second chance, as we would all want. We will never know the full story behind the relationships and who played what role in them falling apart; for that reason alone, one relationship and the poor choices surrounding it should not be the defining factor of a woman’s life and how her story will be told.

The Dress Before #TheDress: Artist Painted Monica’s Frock Into Bill Clinton Portrait

March 3rd, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Artist Painted Monica's Frock Into Bill Clinton Portrait

Source: AP Images

 

Just when you thought enough time had passed for us to forget about the scandal that racked Bill Clinton’s presidency, there’s now a picture immortalizing the moment for all to see: forever and ever amen.

In 2006, Pennsylvania artist Nelson Shanks, 77, painted a portrait of the former president for the National Portrait Gallery. But he took an artistic liberty.

Shanks himself told the Philadelphia Daily News that he included a reference to Monica Lewinsky’s infamous blue dress in the portrait of Bill Clinton.

He started the story by explaining how nervous Clinton was when he was being captured. In fact, Shanks said Clinton was petrified. He also said of all the people he’s painted, including Princess Diana, Pope John Paul II and many more, Clinton was the hardest to capture.

“Clinton was hard. I’ll tell you why. The reality is he’s probably the most famous liar of all time. He and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting.

If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantel in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.

And so the Clintons hate the portrait. They want it removed from the National Portrait Gallery. They’re putting a lot of pressure on them.”

The National Portrait Gallery denied that last bit about Clinton wanting it removed. In fact, it was Clinton who reportedly chose Shanks to capture his likeness.

The portrait did cause a bit of an uproar when it was first unveiled, 9 years ago, because Clinton’s wedding ring was missing from his left hand in the painting. Which might have been symbolic as well.

interesting story, right?

But I wonder do you think Shanks was being disrespectful or petty by bringing up old stuff? Or do you think since this scandal and the subsequent lie was so historic that it’s fair game in a portrait?

What do you think?

Chelsea Clinton Gives Birth To Baby Girl

September 27th, 2014 - By Courtney Whitaker
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WENN

WENN

Former president Bill Clinton is officially a grandfather!

His daughter, Chelsea Clinton gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Friday night. Clinton tweeted the following message early Saturday morning.

Clinton enjoyed one of the few surprises in life. She decided to wait to find out the sex of her child. She told CNN, “ There are so few mysteries in life…in which any answer is a happy one. My husband and I decided we would enjoy this mystery for, you know, the nine-plus months that we were granted.”

This is the first grandchild for Hillary and Bill Clinton. Chelsea and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky have been married sine 2010.

With rumors swirling that Hillary is prepping for a 2016 presidential bid things are about to heat up for the Clintons.

Hillary Clinton Reveals Family Was ‘Dead Broke’ After Clinton Presidency

June 9th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN.com

Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN.com

If you want to get Hillary Clinton to make a public speech at your next event, be prepared to pay $200,000 along with travel expenses. It’s a price tag that may sound reasonable to a lot of people considering that Rodham-Clinton is a former Secretary of State, a former Senator and a former First Lady of the US. But during an interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC News, Clinton delivered another shocker saying her family struggled financially after husband, Bill Clinton’s presidency ended. She noted:

“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” she says. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”

She went on to tell Sawyer that she believed making public speeches for a monetary fee would be a better profit than becoming involved with corporations. “Let me put it this way, I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than getting connected with any one group or company as so many people who leave public life do,” she says.

She’s spoken at big business events, like one at Goldman Sachs but waives her fee for charitable organizations/events such as the United Methodist Women Conference that took place in Kentucky.

The financial woes of the Clintons were publicized in 2001; TIME reports the Clintons earned $16.1 million that year but the majority of it was from President Clinton’s speaking and author payments. Clinton applauds her husband’s work ethic during that strenuous time: “Bill has worked really hard—and it’s been amazing to me—he’s worked very hard. First of all, we had to pay off all our debts, which was, you know, he had to make double the money because of obviously taxes and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.”

For more of Clinton’s candid interview, where she shares thoughts on the 2016 elections and Monica Lewinsky, see below. And you can watch the full interview tonight.

 


ABC US News | ABC Celebrity News

“Reject The Slander That Says A Black Child With A Book Is Trying To Act White” The Best Celebrity Commencement Speakers

May 6th, 2014 - By M A
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Celebrity Commencement Speakers

FayesVision/WENN.com

It’s a wonderful time of the year for college students around the nation. With young adults bidding farewell to frat parties, all-nighters and general recklessness, students are gearing up for one final hurrah: Graduation. So now seems as good a time as ever to take a look back at our favorite celebrity commencement speakers whose words we have no doubt will stick with these grads throughout the years.

“I Think You Meant Bill Clinton’d”: Monica Lewinsky Responds To Beyoncé’s Partition & Hillary Clinton’s Slut Shaming

May 6th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK SELIGER FOR VANITY FAIR

PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK SELIGER FOR VANITY FAIR

I swear to you, just the other day when I was walking down the street listening to “Partition,” I thought, I wonder if Monica Lewinsky has actually heard this song and what she thinks about it? It was a fleeting thought. But you know what they say about the power of the universe and your mind’s ability to draw things to yourself. And so just today, I was very…delighted, yeah delighted, to see what Monica not only had to say about Beyoncé’s song but what life has been like for her the past few years.

Recently, the former White House intern and later employee wrote an essay for Vanity Fair where she explains just that. You may have noticed that Lewinsky has essentially been out of the limelight for almost ten years while she tried to avoid the public attention. She’s been so quiet that it’s led many to believe that the Clinton’s paid for her to go sit down somewhere and be shut up. But Lewinsky, who is now 40, says it was her decision to get away. She ultimately moved to London where she earned her master’s degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics. And she’s lived in New York, Porland, Oregon and Los Angeles in between.

So the burning question is why has she decided to speak out now? Well, first and foremost she wants us all to know,

“I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”

But she’s also tired of having to hide for over a decade for a mistake she made when she was 24 years old.

I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)”

Over the years, as we’ve attempted to challenge rape culture in this country, people have started to question whether the relationship was truly consensual, whether or not Lewinsky felt pressure to “engage” with Bill Clinton because of his position as President of the United States. Monica explains it this way.

“Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”

Seriously. We all know that Slick Willie, walked away from this affair, his legacy still, for the most part, in tact while Lewinsky was ostracized and shamed. She recalled, hearing how Hillary Clinton decided to spin the scandal in a character analysis she shared with Diane Blair, her closest friend.

In February, Hillary Clinton, during the 1990s, had characterized her as a “narcissistic loony toon” in correspondence with close friend Diane Blair. “My first thought,” Lewinsky writes, “as I was getting up to speed: If that’s the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky. Mrs. Clinton, I read, had supposedly confided to Blair that, in part, she blamed herself for her husband’s affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him…Yes, I get it. Hillary Clinton wanted it on record that she was lashing out at her husband’s mistress. She may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the Woman—not only me, but herself—troubling.”

But it wasn’t just her character that was called into question. Any type of job prospects dwindled in the aftermath of the affair.

“I turned down offers that would have earned me more than $10 million, because they didn’t feel like the right thing to do.” After moving between London (where she got her master’s degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics), Los Angeles, New York, and Portland, Oregon, she interviewed for numerous jobs in communications and branding with an emphasis on charity campaigns, but, “because of what potential employers so tactfully referred to as my ‘history,’” she writes, “I was never ‘quite right’ for the position. In some cases, I was right for all the wrong reasons, as in ‘Of course, your job would require you to attend our events.’ And, of course, these would be events at which press would be in attendance.”

And the economic ice out wasn’t the only price she paid. In 1998, when everything was all out in the open, Lewinsky’s mother had to stay with her in her apartment for several nights because Monica had expressed that she was having suicidal thoughts. All of this came back to her memory when 18 year old Tyler Clementi kissing another man was secretly streamed across the internet for his peers to see. You may remember that Clementi took his own life in 2010.

Lewinsky writes, she was brought to tears, but her mother was especially distraught: “She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.” Lewinsky clarifies that she has never actually attempted suicide, but had strong suicidal temptations several times during the investigations and during one or two periods after.

Lewinsky writes that following Clementi’s tragedy “my own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?” She also says that, when news of her affair with Clinton broke in 1998, not only was she arguably the most humiliated person in the world, but, “thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet.” Her current goal, she says, “is to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.”

And lastly, she writes about the lyrics to Beyoncé’s “Partition”:

“Thanks, Beyoncé, but if we’re verbing, I think you meant ‘Bill Clinton’d all on my gown,’ not ‘Monica Lewinsky’d.’”

Boom!

I mean, I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I can actually empathize with Monica. Growing up in the ’90’s I was conditioned to think Monica Lewinsky was pretty low down, bottom of the barrel. But thankfully, now that I’m older and just a couple years past 24 myself, having made my own mistakes I wouldn’t want broadcast to the world, I find I’m a lot more sympathetic. Not only because it was a bad decision–or a series of bad decisions– she now regrets but also because I’m wondering how long she should have to suffer for this when we’ve all but forgiven Slick Willie? In this country’s eyes Monica, as Beyoncé said, came on her own damn dress and we can’t get past it. Why are we so forgiving of one party and not the other, particularly when that one party was the married one, the one who was getting sucked off when we entrusted him to run the country?! And I really like Bill Clinton but fair is fair. Can we cut Monica some slack now? Can we agree that she’s paid the price and suffered enough already? Being placed in a position, even if you had a hand in placing yourself there, where you consider taking your own life is something no one should ever have to experience. No one, ever.

Aside from all of that I admire the fact that she’s taking her own personal shame, which she had to relive over and over and over and over again and using it to possibly help those who have been similarly, but never on the same scale, humiliated. I can respect that.

What do you think about Monica’s essay and the double standard/slut shaming she faced in order to protect the presidency? What do you think about her reemerging now in an attempt to help others?

Baby Bump News: Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy

April 18th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

Yesterday, former first daughter, Chelsea Clinton, who did look just a bit rounder about the face, announced, with her mother sitting by her side, that she and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are expecting their first child.

The mother and daughter duo were speaking at an event on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And just as it was coming to a close, Chelsea interjected, noting that she wanted to say one more thing quickly. “Marc and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year.”

The event, which Chelsea’s husband attended, was meant to illuminate the measures the Clinton family was making to advance women and girls.

Clinton, who is 34, and Mezvinsky were married in 2010.

Since she left the position as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has made women and girl’s issues her central focus. Following her daughter’s announcement, Mrs. Clinton said, “We’re very excited about what’s happening in our family, but we’re also very excited because of what we’re doing that we hope gives confidence and support to so many of you across our country.”

Chelsea added, “I certainly feel all the better whether it’s a girl or a boy that she or he will grow p in a world with so many strong female leaders.”

It’s said that former President Clinton and Hillary had been very vocal about their desire to have grandchildren.

In fact, in September CBS News asked Bill whether his wife would rather be president or grandmother, to which he responded “I think she’d say grandmother.”

And after President Clinton had his quadruple bypass in 2004, he remarked, “My goal is to live to be a grandfather. The rest is out of my hands.”

After the announcement, President Clinton tweeted, “Excited to add a new line to my Twitter bio…grandfather-to-be!”

Old Slick Willie has become quite the Twitter celeb, right?

At the end of the event Chelsea added, as her beaming mother looked on, “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and, hopefully, children as my mom was to me.”

Congratulations to the Clinton family!

You can watch video of the touching announcement in the video below.

Source

Bill De Blasio Will Be Sworn In As NYC’s Next Mayor By Former President Bill Clinton

December 30th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Derrick Salters/WENN.com

Derrick Salters/WENN.com

New York City Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio will be sworn in by a Democrat heavyweight. Former President Bill Clinton will swear in De Blasio as the next mayor of New York with a Bible once owned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, reports The Wall Street Journal. Having Clinton help de Blasio take office of the most populous city in the United States is significant for many reason. De Blasio, 52 years old, will be the first Democrat to helm New York City Hall in 20 years. Even though Democrats hold a six-to-one advantage in voter registration in the city, the GOP mayoral nominee has won every mayoral election since 1993 before de Blasio’s recent landslide victory in November.

Supplied by Wenn

The Clinton family at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela earlier this month. In the row above, President George W. Bush and wife Laura. Supplied by Wenn

With Clinton playing such a prominent role at the inauguration, which takes place on New Year’s Day, it sends a strong message that Democrats are once again in power in New York City after a two-decade lockout, reports Business Insider.

The President will be joined by his wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the ceremony on January 1.

“I was honored to serve in President Clinton’s Administration and on Secretary Clinton’s campaign for U.S. Senate, and I am honored again that they will both join our celebration for all of New York City,” De Blasio told CBS News in a statement. “Wednesday’s ceremony will be an event for every New Yorker from all five boroughs, and [my wife] Chirlane and I couldn’t be more excited to have President Clinton and Secretary Clinton stand with us.”

Well Deserved: Oprah Awarded Presidential Medal Of Freedom

November 20th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Getty

Source: Getty

Just when folks were starting to speculate that there was some underlying tension between the Obamas and Oprah, we learned, today she was at the White House accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It’s not often that celebrities or media personalities receive these awards but…it’s Oprah so apparently folks made an exception. Plus her personal story and the trajectory of her career certainly make her worthy. According to The Washington Post, Winfrey got the award for being “one of the world’s most successful broadcast journalists” and philanthropists. The highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was given to 16 people, including feminist writer and women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, Washington Post editor Benjamin C. Bradlee and former president Bill Clinton.  President Obama saved Clinton for last and thanked him for his advice, counsel and his work on helping natural disaster victims.

The Medal was also bestowed, posthumously, to Bayard Rustin, the openly gay civil rights leader who worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Post reports that when the president spoke about Oprah, he said: “…her bosses told her she should change her name to Susie. I have to pause here to say, I got the same advice. Oh, they didn’t say I should be named Susie, but they suggested I should change my name.” 

He went on asserting that Oprah is living proof of the tenacity of the human spirit, referencing Oprah’s “childhood of poverty and abuse to the pinnacle of the entertainment universe.” 

At the end of the ceremony, President Obama made these remarks:

“I hope we carry away from this a reminder of what JFK understood to be the essence of the American spirit. Some of us may be less talented, but we all have the opportunity to serve and to open people’s hearts and minds in our smaller orbits. So I hope that everybody’s been inspired as I have been, participating in being with these people here today.”

Congratulations to Lady O!

You can watch video of the ceremony below.