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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (OCTOBER 15, 2020)

 

Today's 38th Annual Parker Lecture and Awards Ceremony highlighted the importance of communications policy in ensuring justice for all people. 

 
Karen Peltz Strauss with the Parker Award plaque
Karen Peltz Strauss

Karen Peltz Strauss was honored for four decades of work in support of access to media and communications for people with disabilities. In her acceptance speech, Strauss explained that it took years of work and many laws and policies for people with disabilities to gain access to television. Strauss emphasized the broad importance of disability access beyond the disability community, noting for example, that the features which aid people with disabilities also often ensure aging adults—who sometimes face declining vision, hearing and cognition—are not left behind. "This award acknowledges that these on-going struggles for disability justice are part and parcel of civil rights so important to Dr. Parker," she said.

 

Valarie Kaur, founder of the Revolutionary Love Project and author of the newly-released book See No Stranger, also spoke to the importance of the Internet in achieving social justice, describing how, even though today the Internet is used to spread hate, it also powered the public response in support of the Black Lives Matter movement this year. Praising the work of media justice advocates who have fought for net neutrality and universal access, she challenged the audience to continue the work.

 
Valarie Kaur with plaque
Valarie Kaur

Kaur told the story of her own grandfather, who arrived as an immigrant in 1913 the same year Dr. Parker was born. Kaur compared the work of Dr. Parker to the work of media justice advocates today, "Everett Parker envisioned a world where people of color like my grandfather had the ability to organize, to tell our own stories, to write our own destinies. Everett Parker fought to ensure that all people could speak and be heard on the most important mass media of his time: broadcast television. Today, we are fighting to ensure that all people can speak and be heard on the most important media of our time: the Internet." Kaur laid out three policy objectives that will ensure the work for social justice will continue: changing the terms of service by social media companies, closing the digital divide, and reestablishing net neutrality. In closing, she exhorted the group assembled on Facebook Live to remember the generations of people who will come after us, "if we show up now and we do the brave thing now, they will inherit a world, and an internet, where at last we see no stranger."

 

Also participating in today's ceremony were the Rev. Lawrence Richardson and Rev. Hyo-Jung Kim of the UCC OC Inc.'s board of directors, Rachel Chapman of the national denomination's board of directors and Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson, one of the United Church of Christ's three elected officers leading the church. The event closed with an example of how the denomination's churches are thriving online with a remote, digital version of The Welcome Table by the Holmdel Community United Church of Christ's in-house band.

 
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OC Inc. created the Parker Lecture in 1983 to recognize its founder’s pioneering work as an advocate for the public’s rights in broadcasting. This year's event took place entirely online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The complete lecture is available on the UCC Media Justice Facebook page now, and excerpts and highlights will be available shortly. The event is also a fundraiser, and donations can be made at www.uccmediajustice.org.

 

The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant denomination comprised of nearly 900,000 members and 5,000 congregations nationwide. Headquartered in Cleveland, the UCC is a church of many firsts, including the first mainline denomination to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man and the first predominantly white denomination to ordain an African American. The UCC and its members are tireless advocates for such social issues as immigration reform, racial equality, LGBT rights, marriage equality, environmental protection and economic justice.

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