President Obama recently traveled to Los Angeles to be honored by the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Benefit Gala. The event presented the President with The USC Shoah Foundation’s Ambassador for Humanity Award. As a Journalist, I’ve been to this event numerous times over the years, this one, because of the President, had the most intense security ever. Founder Steven Spielberg hosted the President at the powerhouse gala at the Hyatt in Century City.
The sparkling event, which packed with 1300 people, also drew a host of A list Hollywood celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Liam Neeson, Sam Jackson, Judge Judy Sheindlin, Jami Gertz, Jeff Garlin, Mitch Hurwitz, Phil Rosenthal, Colin Hanks, Sam Jackson, Rita Wilson, Barbara Streisand and James Brolin, Octavia Spencer, Judge Judy Sheindlin and many more. VIPS from all areas of the entertainment industry included Sue Kroll, Stacy Snider, Mitch Hurwitz, Kathleen Marshall, Howard Gordon, Katie McGrath, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Nicole Avant, TNT’s Michael Wright, Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jim Berk, Tom Rothman and more.
Bruce Springsteen was the entertainment, singing haunting solo versions of ‘Dancing In The Dark,’ and ‘Promised Land.’ Host Conan O’Brien playfully poked fun at the trouble a Presidential visit always causes Angelenos. Conan quipped, ” There are two things that make traffic shut down here, one is a Presidential visit, the other is a light drizzle.” Steven Spielberg gave a meaningful and beautifully moving speech about his mission to combat hate.
President Obama ended the moving night striking an equally serious tone saying, “Steven didn’t stop with ‘Schlinder’s List,” because there were too many other stories to tell. So he created this foundation to undertake what he called a ‘rescue mission,’ preserving the memories that would otherwise be lost to time. Steven freed voices who could tell their own story in their own way. That’s what stories do. That’s what Steven does. That’s what Bruce Springsteen does. They tell a story that stitches up our fates with the fates of theirs. You’ve turned that testimony into tools that could be used by scholars all around the world. I know that for you and for so many here, this is deeply personal. None of these stories could be preserved without the men and women who have the courage to tell them. To turn to those moments and remember those darkest days. I think that drop by drop by drop we can erode and wear down these forces that are so destructive; that we can tell a different story. If the memories of the Shoah survivors teach us anything, it is that silence is evil’s greatest co-conspirator.”