While accepting a lifetime achievement award from his alma mater, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about the ways in which witnessing racism as a child helped define his commitment to the fight for equality.
“Remarkable people were denied opportunities and treated without basic human dignity, solely because of the color of their skin," said Cook, who grew up in Alabama. The image of a cross-burning in front of a black family's house "was permanently imprinted in my brain, and it would change my life forever,” Cook said. “For me, the cross-burning was a symbol of ignorance, of hatred, and a fear of anyone different than the majority. I could never understand it, and I knew then that America’s and Alabama’s history would always be scarred by the hatred that it represented."
Cook also discussed his championing of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a yet-to-be legislated bill that would prevent companies from being able to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees.