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TL Lewis to Receive McGannon Award

Talila “TL” LEWIS TO RECEIVE MCGANNON AWARD AT 40th ANNUAL EVERETT C. PARKER LECTURE

The United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry announced today that Talila “TL” Lewis, co-founder and outgoing director of the cross-disability abolitionist organization HEARD, will receive UCC Media Justice Ministry’s McGannon Award. Lewis will be honored in recognition of special contributions in advancing justice—specifically for Lewis’s path-breaking advocacy with and for disabled incarcerated people, and work to identify and address the inextricable links between ableism and all forms of oppression.

Talila "TL" Lewis

Lewis co-founded HEARD in 2011 to support deaf, deafblind, deafdisabled, and hard of hearing people affected by incarceration, especially those who were wrongfully convicted. Lewis went on to work on numerous deaf wrongful conviction cases; and provide direct advocacy for incarcerated community members while serving as HEARD’s volunteer director for nearly a decade. Under Lewis’s stewardship, HEARD grew into a cross-disability abolitionist organization that works to end ableism, racism, capitalism, and all other forms of oppression and violence.

Lewis and HEARD’s tiny team (almost all-volunteer for a decade) have advocated with and for thousands of deaf/disabled defendants, incarcerated, and returned people and their loved ones.

Beyond direct advocacy, Lewis is a thought leader, educator, and consultant who works to identify and interrupt the interconnected social, cultural, and structural hierarchies that assign some people and communities less value than others based on “socially constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness.” (Learn more at bit.ly/ableism2022). 

Cheryl A. Leanza, policy advisor at UCC Media Justice, said, “TL's tenacity leaves me in awe. Nothing stops TL’s campaign for abolition of all forms of incarceration and work to illuminate the stories and needs of  multiply-marginalized and incarcerated people. TL worked for years without pay to lead an organization laser-focused on its values and the people most in need on the inside and returning home. Beyond this, TL’s thought leadership helps everyone, whether in the advocacy sector, the government sector, or beyond.”

Lewis will join Parker Lecturer Maya Wiley and Parker Award recipient Jessica J. Gonzalez at the September 22 event in Washington D.C.

The McGannon Award is named after Donald H. McGannon who was a broadcasting industry executive during the formative years of the television industry in the United States. As chairman of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, McGannon used his prominence in broadcasting to influence the regulations, standards, and practices of broadcasting. He was a vocal advocate of social responsibility in broadcasting and worked to educate the public through television.

Learn more and get your tickets.



 

About the UCC Media Justice Ministry and the Parker Lecture

The United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, formerly known as the Office of Communications, Inc., was founded in 1959, just two years after the formation of the UCC as a denomination. Rev. Parker launched the organization and led it until his retirement in 1982. Parker was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to reform television coverage of the civil rights movement in the South. His advocacy in the 1960s resulted in the establishment of the right of all American citizens to participate in hearings before the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC’s 1969 decision to terminate the broadcast license of WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., for its failure to cover its local Black community and the civil rights movement, and thus failing to serve the public interest.

 

The Parker Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize Parker’s pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The Parker Lecture is the only program of its kind in the United States that examines telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.

 

About the United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With approximately 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the United States, the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.

 
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Categories: prison phone  |  ParkerLecture

2022 Parker Honorees Announced


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAYA WILEY, JESSICA GONZÁLEZ TO BE HONORED

AT 40th ANNUAL EVERETT C. PARKER LECTURE

 

Maya Wiley, the nationally recognized civil rights leader, will deliver the 40th annual Everett C. Parker Lecture, the United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry announced today, and Jessica J. González, co-CEO of Free Press, will receive the group’s prestigious Parker Award at the September 22 event.

 

The annual lecture and awards breakfast comes at a time when recent events, including the covid-19 pandemic, have highlighted the role that media and misinformation can play in shaping history and the importance of wider and easier access to broadband connectivity. The ministry, formerly known as the UCC Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc.) will be celebrating one year under its new moniker as the lecture returns to an in-person event at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington that will be hosted simultaneously online.

 
Maya Wiley

Wiley is the newly appointed president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She has worked as a litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc., and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and served as a legal analyst for MSNBC from 2018 to 2021. She co-founded the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), a national policy strategy organization working to end structural racism, which is now part of Race Forward. In addition to her long work on civil rights issues, Wiley served as counsel to then-New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and played a critical role in the city's rollout of affordable broadband services, building on her work at CSI and championing a $10 million investment in affordable broadband in the city. Subsequently she founded the Digital Equity Laboratory at New School University and served as its senior vice president for social justice.

 

Earl Williams Jr., chair of the UCC Media Justice Ministry board, said, "We are so pleased that the fortieth annual Parker Lecture will feature Maya Wiley's vision for racial equity and deep expertise on the importance of technology in achieving that equity and protecting civil rights."

 
Jessica J. González

González will receive the 2022 Parker Award, given in recognition for work that embodies the spirit and mission of the late Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, who founded the UCC Media Justice Ministry. González is an attorney whose advocacy spans a wide range of media justice and racial justice issues. As a former beneficiary herself of the Lifeline program that subsidizes telecommunications services for low-income households, González has worked diligently to fend off attacks on the program. At Free Press and at her prior position at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, she has been a champion of net neutrality and media diversity, and a forceful opponent of media consolidation. She co-founded Change the Terms, building a coalition of more than 60 civil- and digital-rights groups seeking to address online hate speech, and helped lead the “Stop Hate for Profit” boycott, seeking to persuade online companies to take more responsibility for deterring hate speech on their platforms.

 

Tickets and additional information about the event are available through EventBrite and on the UCC Media Justice web page.


 

About the UCC Media Justice Ministry and the Parker Lecture

The United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, formerly known as the Office of Communications, Inc., was founded in 1959, just two years after the formation of the UCC as a denomination. Rev. Parker launched the organization and led it until his retirement in 1982. Parker was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to reform television coverage of the civil rights movement in the South. His advocacy in the 1960s resulted in the establishment of the right of all American citizens to participate in hearings before the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC’s 1969 decision to terminate the broadcast license of WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., for its failure to cover its local Black community and the civil rights movement, and thus failing to serve the public interest.

 

The Parker Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize Parker’s pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The Parker Lecture is the only program of its kind in the United States that examines telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.

 

About the United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With approximately 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the United States, the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.

 
 
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Categories: ParkerLecture

2021 Parker Lecture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

An expert in the intersection between white nationalism and other domestic hate movements and a pioneer in the field of digital inclusion will be honored at the 39th Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday October 19 at 12:00 noon eastern. The event, which will be held virtually again this year, is sponsored by the United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry, the Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc.).

 

Eric K. Ward

Eric K. Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, will present this year’s Parker Lecture. Ward has a long history as an activist, philanthropist, community organizer and leader, with a special focus on developing innovative responses to white nationalism, antisemitism and structural inequality. During a time when the country is grappling with its response to racism and white supremacy, particularly online, Ward will bring to bear his compelling skills as a speaker to these critical issues. As a frequently sought-after voice on race issues, he has been quoted in the New Yorker, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, NPR, BBC, Rolling Stone, and numerous other media outlets. In addition to his position at the Western States Center, he received the Peabody-Facebook Futures Media Award, is a Senior Fellow both at the Southern Poverty Law Center and at Race Forward. Ward also performs as Bulldog Shadow in a style of music that Outer Voices calls “a muscular, straightforward brand of Americana that benefits from a heavy dose of punk ethos.”

 

Angela Siefer

The 2021 Parker Award will be presented to Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). Siefer has played a pivotal role in the field now known as digital inclusion, largely due to her pioneering work. Since beginning her involvement with digital inclusion in 1997, she has contributed substantial work in the field, physically setting up computer labs in underserved areas and managing local digital inclusion programs. Siefer founded the NDIA in 2015, which aims to provide a united voice for initiatives that promote home and public broadband access and local technology training and support programs. NDIA has quickly become an essential player in ensuring all people have access to broadband across the country. During the COVID-19 pandemic Siefer and NDIA have expanded and been an irreplaceable source of information and inspiration as the nation struggled to bring all people online. In 2019, Siefer was named by Government Technology Magazine to its list of Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers.

 

Francella Ochillo

The 2021 Donald H. McGannon Award, which recognizes special contributions to advancing the role of women and persons of color in the media, will be presented to Francella Ochillo. Ochillo is executive director of Next Century Cities, a nonprofit organization that focuses on expanding high-speed broadband connectivity across the United States. Ochillo is an attorney and digital rights advocate. Her work highlights the many ways in which widespread broadband adoption can improve educational outcomes, economic mobility, the ability to age in place, and pathways for participating in our democracy. She is also an incoming Technology and Public Purpose Fellow at Harvard University, where her research underscores the relationship between inadequate technology access and poverty. Ochillo is receiving the McGannon award for her work demonstrating that centering digital equity and empowering communities that are underrepresented in policy making are central to achieving positive digital outcomes for all.

 

Tickets and additional information about the event are available through EventBrite.

 

About the UCC’s media justice ministry and the Parker Lecture

The Office of Communications, Inc. is the media justice arm of the United Church of Christ. Founded in 1959, just two years after the formation of the UCC as a denomination, it was led by the Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker in its earliest years. Parker was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to reform television coverage of the civil rights movement in the South. OC Inc.’s advocacy in the 1960s resulted in the establishment of the right of all American citizens to participate in  hearings before the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC being compelled to take away the broadcast license of the pro-segregationist television station WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., in 1969 for failing to serve the public interest.

 

The Parker Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize the Rev. Dr. Parker’s pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The Parker Lecture is the only program of its kind in the United States that examines telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.

 

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Structure of and Access to Technology is the Key to Justice

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 Parker Lecture 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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Categories: ParkerLecture

37th Annual Parker Lecture Honorees Underscore the Importance of “Remembering Our Stories”

Press Contact: Cheryl Leanza
Cell: 202-904-2168
Email: cleanza@alhmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (OCTOBER 17, 2019)

Three media justice advocates stressed the importance of retelling stories—and telling them accurately—at the 37th Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture and Awards Breakfast today in Washington, DC, sponsored by the United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry, the Office of Communication, Inc.

The Rev. Julian DeShazier, senior pastor of University Church in Chicago and the Emmy Award-winning hip-hop artist J.Kwest, brought the full range of his skills to his Parker Lecture address. To underscore his theme, he began with a rap:

“. . . Is Chicago making
A different kind of statement, you looking at me

Like please stop rapping! So I can hear what you’re saying

American way, to reject another language
American angst, try to HEAR what I’m saying

I’m saying THAT DAY won’t come, ‘til we make it . . .” 

DeShazier related a parable of the Akan people of Ghana about “Sankofa,” a bird who struck out from her community until she was bullied by “Big Bird,” and returned home, regretting that she had ever left. But then her village told her, “Don’t forget us this time. Don’t forget who are you are.” With her confidence renewed, she returned to confront Big Bird and found that he was gone.

The lesson, DeShazier said, is “you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.” Sankofa, he said, “reminds us that the past and future are tied together, that destiny is not only a matter of will but of knowing where you and your people have been, what that creates in us. Identity formed through the past, which means the story must be told, told well, and told rightly. 

“Sankofa is what reminds embattled people, forgotten people, disinherited people who traverse a sky full of Big Birds – the Big Bird of xenophobia, the Big Bird of poverty, the Big Bird of corporatized education, militarized peacekeeping – Big Bird does not want you to have your story, because with your story comes your identity and with an anchored sense of being no thing and no one can get in your way.

“Sankofa is our reminder that stories carry within them the power to make people and the power to remove them: the power of life and death.”

DeShazier’s message was underscored by the stories told by those who were recognized with awards at this year’s event.

Cayden Mak, executive director of 18 Million Rising, an online organization that builds community in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, received the Everett C. Parker Award in recognition of his work in support of greater public access to affordable and open broadband technologies. Mak described how as a queer youth, “the Internet saved by life.” Growing up feeling “isolated and weird,” the Internet enabled him to “find people like me.”

But, he noted, “the social web has become a lot less social.” Before “the ideology,” he said, it embraced “the search for belonging.” But he asserted that he still believed “we can have an Internet built on care,” and a technology that is “expansive not expensive.”

Sarah Macharia, global coordinator of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), traveled from Kenya to accept the Donald H. McGannon Award on behalf of her organization. The McGannon award recognizes special contributions in advancing the role of women and persons of color in the media; the GMMP is the longest and largest longitudinal study of women in the media—both their presence and how they are covered—in the world. The project’s next study, conducted at five-year intervals, will take place in 2020 and is expected to involve volunteers in 130 companies.

Macharia described how the project began in 1995, monitoring the media in 70 countries. The idea “was not an idle curiosity but came out of frustration over the media’s seeming lack of respect for the integrity and dignity of women the world over.”

“Think of the stream that becomes a river as tributaries merge into it, bringing life to the land through which it crosses,” she said.  “So it is with the GMMP, as more countries and tens of thousands of volunteers have joined in.” The project is “three things in one: It is a research project, it is an action network and it is an activist movement.”

Macharia noted that the project had determined that “out of every four people seen, heard or read about in the mainstream news media globally, only one is a woman. Based on the trends, we forecast it will take at least three quarters of a century to reach parity.”  The problem, she said, was “more or less identical the world over, whether in the USA, in Uruguay or in Uganda.”

The event celebrated the 60th anniversary of OC Inc. Participants recalled how media monitoring was important to the early work of the Rev. Parker, who founded OC Inc. in 1959. Parker organized volunteers to monitor television stations in the Deep South to demonstrate that they were failing to cover the local African-American community. In 1963, he filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission that ultimately stripped WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., of its broadcast license.The court case also established the principle that the public could participate in matters before the agency, a principle that OC Inc. helped successfully defend, with other advocacy partners, in a federal appeals court case this past year.

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.

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About the United Church of Christ: 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. The Parker Lecture is the only lecture in the country to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective. More information is available at

www.uccmediajustice.org.

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Categories: ParkerLecture



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