Apple CEO Tim Cook used his personal platform this weekend to urge America to "remove the symbols and word" that feed racism. On Sunday, Mr. Cook tweeted his thoughts to the families of the victims killed in a racist attack in South Carolina at an historic all-black church called Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal.
My thoughts are with the victim's families in SC.Let us honor their lives by eradicating racism & removing the symbols & words that feed it.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 21, 2015
Mr. Cook's comments aren't specific, but have largely been interpreted to refer to the presence of the Confederate flag in South Carolina and other parts of the South. In South Carolina, the Confederate flag is part of a monument near the state capitol.
Such lingering tributes to a time when humans could be owned by others based in part on the color of their skin. While the Confederacy is part of the U.S.'s history, symbols such as that flag are often used by racists to promote and justify their idealogy. There has been a growing calling for governments in the South to drop their use of such symbols in official capacities.
Tim Cook has increasingly raised his own voice to promote equality and combat racism. He has spoken out against discrimination in speeches, and under his leadership, Apple took part in San Francisco's Pride event in 2014.
As such, he is a somewhat rare voice in corporate America, at least in the rarefied regions occupied by the likes of Apple, the world's most valuable corporation. But he was joined in spirit by Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com, tweeted and retweeted his support for the flag to removed.
I agree @MittRomney: Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove to honor victims.— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) June 20, 2015
Mr. Benioff specifically cited the flag, and note that he cited Republican Mitt Romney's own support on this issue. In fact, while most of the call for such things has come from progressive elements in the U.S., a growing number of Republicans such as Mr. Romney have added their voices.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Republican), for instance, reversed course on this specific issue. While she expressed support for the flag in the wake of the murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, on Monday—after the comments from Tim Cook and Marc Benioff—she said, "It's time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds."