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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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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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This Year's Parker Honorees: DeShazier, Mak, Global Media Monitoring Project

UCC OC Inc. is pleased to announce this year's honorees.  Learn more about the lecture and obtain tickets.

 

2019 PARKER LECTURE TO HONOR DIVERSE VOICES,

FRESH APPROACHES TO MEDIA MINISTRY ON OCTOBER 17

 

WASHINGTON—A diverse group of persons and organizations will be honored October 17 for the United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry’s 37th annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture and Awards Breakfast.

 

The Rev. Julian De Shazier, senior pastor of University Church in Chicago, will deliver this year’s Parker Lecture. DeShazier, under the name J.Kwest, is an Emmy award-winning hip-hop artist, featured in the video “Strange Fruit.” He is a faculty member at McCormick Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago Divinity School. DeShazier has been recognized by the Center for American Progress as one of “10 Faith Leaders to Watch” in 2018 and by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of “40 under 40” leaders in that city.  DeShazier was instrumental in establishing an adult trauma center on the South Side of Chicago, currently serves on the University of Chicago Medicine Community Advisory Council (CAC).  He is a regular contributor to Sojourners, ON Scripture, and HuffPost publications and has appeared on ABC, FOX, NPR and Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Oprah & Friends” radio program.

 

Cayden Mak, executive director of 18 Million Rising, will receive the Everett C. Parker Award, in recognition of his work to provide a voice to persons of color and underrepresented communities. 18MR builds identity, belonging, and community power online in the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander community. Prior to becoming executive director, Mak was chief technology officer at 18MR, leading the team that created VoterVOX, a tool designed to help locate volunteer translation services for voters with limited proficiency in English. In addition, Mak was a cofounder of youngist.org, New York Students Rising, and an officer and staff organizer for the Communications Workers of America.

 

The Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) of the World Association of Christian Communication (WACC) will receive the Donald H. McGannon Award in recognition of special contributions to advancing the role of women and persons of color in the media. The project is the largest advocacy initiative in the world seeking to improve the representation of women in the media. Every five years since 1995, it has conducted the largest and longest-running longitudinal study of gender in the world’s media, including such metrics as the numbers of women versus men, gender bias, and gender stereotyping in content. It involves participants ranging from grass-roots observers to academic researchers to media practitioners, all of whom serve on a volunteer basis. Its next survey, in 2020, is expected to involve volunteers in 130 countries. Sarah Macharia, the principal editor of the 2010 and 2015 GMMP reports, GMMP global coordinator and WACC’s gender and communication program manager, will be traveling from Africa to attend the Parker Lecture and accept the award on behalf of her organization. Macharia represents WACC on the board of the UNESCO-initiated Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG) that promotes gender equality in the media.

 

The Parker Lecture and Awards Breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. on October 17, 2019 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC. 

 

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. Parker founded the UCC’s Office of Communication, Inc., sixty years ago to successfully challenge the broadcast license of a Jackson, Mississippi, television station for failing to serve the public interest and cover the local African American community.

 

The subsequent court battle established the right of ordinary citizens to participate in regulatory proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission. Today, those battles continue around such issues as Net Neutrality, prison telephone rate reform, and broadcast industry consolidation.

 

The Parker Lecture is the only event of its kind in the United States to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.

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36th Annual Parker Lecture Mixes Tears, Memories and Inspiration to Honor Three Media Justice Advocates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (OCTOBER 11, 2018)

Tears mixed with memories, moments of levity and inspiration as three media justice advocates were honored today by the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication, Inc. at the 36th Annual Everett C. Parker Telecommunications Lecture and Awards Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Helen Brunner, a longtime philanthropist and founding director of the Media Democracy Fund, delivered this year’s lecture. Gigi Sohn, a Distinguished Fellow at Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Foundation Fellow, received the Everett C. Parker Award in recognition of 30 years of work in support of greater public access to affordable and open broadband technologies. And Kevin Sampson, founder and director of the D.C. Black Film Festival, received the Donald H. McGannon Award in recognition of special contributions to advancing the role of women and persons of color in the media.

OC Inc., the UCC’s media justice ministry, created the Parker Lecture in 1983 to recognize its founder’s pioneering work as an advocate for the public’s rights in broadcasting. In 1963, Rev. Parker filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission that ultimately stripped WLBT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi, of its broadcast license for its failure to cover the local African-American community. The court case also established the principle that the public could participate in matters before the agency.

Brunner recalled that she first experienced the legacy of Parker’s work when she attended the D.C. Public Schools and a teacher assigned her class to monitor how African-Americans were depicted on local television shows. She said that although the District’s population was then about 70 percent black, “Amos and Andy” reruns filled half of daytime programming. Despite the passage of years, she said, we “still have the same problem.”

Brunner devoted much of her address to the audience of advocates, policy makers and faith leaders to the importance of addressing mental health concerns and practicing self-care—particularly as it relates to social justice advocates. She acknowledged that she had “almost died from my own self-inflicted pressures,” but that in the two years since she had stepped down from directing the Media Democracy Fund, she had taken steps to address her own mental health and learn more about the nature of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

She acknowledged that media justice advocates have watched the work of “decades-long battles. . . be destroyed with a stroke of a pen.” Brunner said that “organizers, activists and advocates are … fairly exhausted and overwhelmed” and living in a “fight, flight or freeze mode.”

“The ground has shifted,” she said, “and many things that used to work, don’t any longer.” She encouraged her audience to fight burnout and to recognize that social justice work would “go better if you protect your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Your work will be more effective and creative if it comes from expansive rather than constrictive thoughts, if it comes from love rather than fear and overwhelm.” She emphasized that “the future is going to happen and we have a choice: we can work for the future we want, or we can let it happen. Know that you will have results.” Brunner drove home her message by coaching her audience in a round of meditative breathing, and providing a break of laughter by encouraging them to bat beach balls around the sanctuary of First Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Washington.

Sohn recalled her early days at the Ford Foundation, looking through “its dusty basement archives” to learn more about its involvement in supporting communications law and policy advocacy. She said that she found a copy of the ruling that Warren Burger, then chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, made in Parker’s landmark case, with a handwritten note from Burger addressed to McGeorge Bundy, then the foundation’s new president. The note  read: “I think this might interest you.”

“Thanks to Everett Parker’s efforts,” she noted, “a new field was created, along with the resources needed to protect the public interest in communications.”

“In these difficult times,” she said, “when much of what we have worked for so hard and for so long is being dismantled, we should all strive to be like Everett. His was an uphill battle too, also during a dark time in our country’s history. Nevertheless, he persisted as we will, too.” She said she drew energy from the new advocates in the field, looking forward to a time when “the pendulum will swing back in our favor” and “the arc of the moral universe will bend toward media and social justice.”

Sampson recalled that he had been sitting “on the floor of the ping pong room in the Google office of San Francisco” late last year when he received the news that his grandmother had passed. A Google Next Generation Policy Leader, Sampson said that the experience gave him a sense of responsibility to “give back for the sacrifices made for me.” He said his work to increase the voices of women and people of color in the media— “tough and thankless as it is at times”—is “a way to open doors in the way doors have been opened for me.”

Sampson recalled with sadness and concern that coming home from that same trip, he learned that his six-year-old daughter had told her mother that “she wished her skin was white.” Bringing home the urgency of his work to the audience, he spoke about having to teach his three-year-old son that “he can’t act like he’s shooting a gun made out of a plastic card in a restaurant because some people may want to kill him.” Noting the “Making Black Lives Matter Through Film” panel that his festival has organized, he said, “If the stone of a conversation can have a ripple effect in the pond of care and compassion and allow my son to make it home safely in the future. . . it’s worth it.”

Sampson concluded by asking, “What’s the ‘why?’ that will help you push through those late nights, or times when you want to give up? It’s in that pure place that we can combat the injustices in our world in an effort to keep the focus on the beauty of it. Because what I’ve seen is that even when your why comes from a ‘selfish,’ personal place, there’s always someone who can relate and who will benefit from your effort. It’s only truly selfish when we don’t act.”

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, Ohio, 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 social issues such 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 http://uccmediajustice.org/content_item/parker2018.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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