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In recent months, Apple CEO Tim Cook has increasingly turned his focus toward equal rights in the workplace, an issue he addressed again in a rare speech in New York in early December 2013.

For me, the cross burning was a symbol of ignorance, of hatred and of fear of anyone different than the majority.
“Growing up in Alabama in the 1960s, I saw the devastating impacts of discrimination,” Cook said in the video. “Not far from where I lived, I remember very vividly witnessing a cross burning … This image was permanently imprinted in my brain, and it would change my life forever.  For me, the cross burning was a symbol of ignorance, of hatred and of fear of anyone different than the majority.”

During his speech, Cook revealed that he keeps photos of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. in his office as a reminder of his own value system.  Later, the Apple CEO paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela and the latter’s philosophy on human rights.

Cook also reaffirmed his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against potential employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Cook wrote passionately about that bill in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. (mashable.com)