SAN DIEGO — Former President of the United States Barack Obama took the stage Sunday at the L’Attitude conference held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego. The four-day event wrapped up Sunday with various speakers, including Obama.
The 44th U.S. president spoke to hundreds of people who packed the room, along with an overflow room where attendees watched the president broadcasted on a screen.
News cameras and people in the audience were directed to not film while the president was on stage.
Obama’s topics ranged from economics, immigration and his hope for the future.
Acosta first asked Obama how him and his family are doing, and then pivoted to focusing on economics and asked Obama, “How do we close the Latino wealth gap in the US?”
Gary Acosta, co-founder of L’Attitude, moderated the one-hour long conversation and said that Latinos in the U.S. contributed $2.8 trillion to the GDP and if Latinos were a stand-alone country, Latinos would be the fifth largest economy in the world.
Obama said the success of the U.S. depends on how well the Latino community and minority groups do. He said there are things the government can do to make sure discrimination is addressed.
“My hope would be that all of us, regardless of political party, would say that (discrimination) is not good for America and that is not good for the country,” Obama said.
Obama said it is often harder for entrepreneurs of color to access the “pipeline” that allows them opportunity to turn their ideas into viable businesses. He urged companies to ensure they assist with making sure everyone has a seat at the table.
He said there has been movement to include more diverse views, but it is sometimes seen as a philanthropic effort just during “Hispanic Heritage or Black History months,” and he encourages the movement in corporate to be year-round.
Obama said during his time in the White House he learned, “If you want to make good decisions, you have to have as many points of view as possible, because we all have blind spots.”
Obama mentioned about the situation at the border, labeling it as “messy” and hopes that an effective border policy can be put into place. He also discussed his outlook for the future and said he is more optimistic about the future because of “young people,” who he believes have a general understanding of “common humanity.”
After the discussion, those in attendance said they felt inspired by what Obama had to say.
“It was great to see Obama and he’s always a great person to listen to,” said Roy Cabrera, an attendee from Los Angeles. “I’ve seen Clinton, Bush, now Obama, I was very excited to see him.”
The L’Attitude conference was founded in 2018 by international business executive Sol Trujillo and NAHREP
Co-Founder & CEO Gary Acosta and brings together U.S. Latinos to network and gather ideas while listening to speakers.