President Barack Obama was front and center at a star-studded event at Century Plaza Hotel during his visit to Southern California. Beverly White reports from Century City for the NBC4 News at 11 on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.
President Barack Obama was recognized for his global efforts to protect human rights at a gala event hosted by director Steven Spielberg Wednesday night.
The USC Shoah Foundation, founded by Spielberg, honored President Obama with the Ambassador for Humanity Award at the 20th Anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity Gala at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.
"I think about young girls in Nigeria, or children caught up in the conflict in Syria," President Obama said during his speech. "I think drop by drop by drop, that we can erode and wear down these forces that are so destructive, that tell a different story."
The USC Shoah Foundation documents and archives the video testimonies of survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides, such as the one in Armenia and Rwanda. Some of those survivors were in attendance at Wednesday night’s gala.
"Every day that you have lived, every child and grandchild that your families have brought into this world, have served as the ultimate rebuke to evil and the ultimate expression of love and hope," President Obama said.
The USC Shoah Foundation was founded by Spielberg after he completed the the film, "Schindler’s List." Since it's founding, more than 50,000 personal accounts of survival have been documented.
“As long as we fail to learn, our work will be urgent work,” Spielberg said at the event.
The star-studded evening opened up with remarks by Liam Neeson, the actor who portrayed Oskar Schindler in the film. Bruce Springsteen performed and the event itself was hosted by Conan O’Brien.
"The President's recent appointment of the first special envoy for Holocaust Survivor Services in United States history demonstrates his staunch commitment to honoring the past while building a better future," Spielberg said in the a statement.
Before speaking at the USC Shoah Foundation gala Wednesday night, President Obama attended a campaign fundraiser at the Bel Air home of Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.
The President was expected to stay overnight on the Westside before traveling to San Diego for another Congressional fundraiser Thursday.
Wednesday’s visit was President Obama’s 17th visit to Los Angeles since taking office in 2009.