On Thursday evening at an International Rescue Committee gala in midtown Manhattan, Meryl Streep, Michael Bloomberg, Henry Kissinger, Liv Ullmann, Danny Boyle and Keegan-Michael Key, among other guests, gathered to celebrate human tenacity, compassion and American values.
The fundraiser, held at the New York Hilton, raised nearly $20 million and was thrown by the IRC, an organization that provides aid and sanctuary to refugees.
Addressing the audience seated before him, IRC CEO David Miliband explained why the American dream remains a beacon for people around the world. It continues to inspire “not because it is for some,” he said, “but because it is for all, irrespective of creed, race or color.”
While President Donald Trump was not mentioned by name, the night’s attendees were hypercritical of his administration’s policies regarding immigration and refugees. “The United States is going backwards in the support it offers refugees here,” Miliband told The Hollywood Reporter.
“There should be an initiative in our government that sets up safe zones for people from anywhere in the world to come here,” Key chimed in. While he conceded such legislation is “pie in the sky” thinking, given the current administration, he urged that people should take action by volunteering and donating money to organizations such as the IRC.
The actor also recommended people be selective about the type of information they choose to engage with. “You have to ignore it,” he said of the barrage of executive orders and tweets that continually stream from the Oval Office. His own strategy is simple: “I’m going to live my life like this government — the regime — doesn’t exist and just do the best I can.” (Ironically, for 11 minutes during the dinner Trump did cease to exist, at least on Twitter, when a departing employee went rogue and deactivated the president’s personal account.)
Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and New York City’s former mayor, and Ullmann, an actress and longtime refugee activist, were both honored at the dinner.
“America has always opened its arms to the most vulnerable and given them a chance to start anew,” Bloomberg, who contributed half of the $20 million raised, said upon accepting his award. “And in return, they’ve given us back so much. Refugees have started companies and created jobs, cured deadly disease and produced iconic art and literature. They’ve bravely defended our country and the freedoms that we all enjoy.”