Apple CEO Tim Cook was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor Monday. Mr. Cook, who was born in Alabama and graduated from Auburn University, used his acceptance speech to criticize Alabama for being slow to recognize and promote LGBT rights, and compared it to how Alabama was slow to recognize the rights of racial minorities in decades past.
From Mr. Cook's speech, taken from the video shown below the fold:
We're all familiar with the historical struggle of our African-American brothers and sisters for our equal rights. I could never understand why some within our state and nation resisted basic principles of human dignity that were so opposite the values I had learned growing up in Robertsdale, Alabama, in a family that was rich in love and respect. Decades later, I still don't understand.
My parents worked hard so we could have a better life, go to college and become whatever we wanted. They moved to Alabama because they found friends and neighbors that shared their values, and I saw that. I also saw—as many of you did—that it was a time of great struggle across our state and our nation. It deeply impacted me, and helped define who I am today.
As I stand here in the capitol, I am reminded of all of those who came before us. Those who fought for change, and those who resisted it.
As a state, we took too long to take steps towards equality, and once we began, our progress was too slow. Too slow on equality for African-Americans. Too slow on interracial marriage, which was only legalized fourteen years ago. And still too slow on equality for the LGBT community.
Under the law, citizens of Alabama can still be fired based on their sexual orientation. We can't change the past, but we can learn from it. And we can create a different future.
Mr. Cook then spoke about education, praising his public school teachers, and calling the fact that the U.S. has a public school system one of the country's strengths. He argued that education is too often limited according to one's Zip Code, and said this needs to change.
Mr. Cook was inducted with several other Alabamans, including U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), University of Alabama President Judy Bonner, and University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.