In 2017 and 2018, the #MeToo and Time's Up movements have gotten the attention of, and started affecting, industries from Hollywood to Wall Street. The undocumented "dreamers" protected by the DACA program and their allies have rallied support from billionaires like Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. And the Parkland mass shooting survivors inspired over 800,000 Americans to march against gun violence.
An Alabama-native, Cook returned to Birmingham on Wednesday to meet students and celebrate the rollout of Apple's Swift programming curriculum across Alabama Community College branches, as well as to accept his award.
Cook noted how the world was "made better" by King's work but added that there is still much to be done to accomplish King's dream of equality.
"We're still faced with widespread poverty, inequality, discrimination, inequality of economic opportunity, inequality in our justice system," Cook said. "Too much of a child's future is still determined by a zipcode they are born in, like the availability of a quality education."
In the past year alone, Cook has donated millions of dollars toward advancing children's access to education, fighting racial discrimination and other human rights causes.
Nonetheless, Cook said, "despite all of the challenges we face" and "despite the frustration," he is hopeful because of the people leading and supporting today's most influential movements.