Apple CEO Tim Cook formally received the Ripple of Hope Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights on Tuesday evening. Upon receiving the award, Cook spoke at length about some of the problems facing the U.S. and the world at large today. During the nearly 12-minute speech, as reported by Bloomberg, Cook touched on topics ranging from LGBT rights to the current Syrian refugee crisis:
"Today, more than half of the states in this country still don't offer basic protections to gay or transgender people, leaving millions of people vulnerable to being fired or evicted because of who they are or who they love," Cook said.
"Today, some in our country would turn away innocent men, women and children seeking refuge," Cook said, "regardless of how many background checks they may submit to, simply based on where they were born. Victims of war and now victims of fear and misunderstanding."
Further in his speech, Cook spoke about improving access to quality education, finishing with "we can do better, we must act." Cook then highlighted the legacy of Robert Kennedy, relating Kennedy's optimism to Apple's own efforts:
At Apple, Cook concluded, challenges "inspire us; they do not daunt us." He added, "like Robert Kennedy, we reject pessimism and cynicism. We see no contradiction between a hard-headed realism and an unshakable idealism that says anything is possible if we just get to work."
Cook, a prominent advocate for equality and human rights and backer of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Huuman Rights, accepted his the award the widow of Robert Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy, as well as his daughter, Kerry Kennedy. Cook received the award alongside Congressman John Lewis, UNESCO Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyannis, and Evercore's Roger Altman.