The 40th Annual Everett C. Parker Lecture & Awards Ceremony
The 40th Annual Everett C. Parker Lecture & Awards Ceremony was held Thursday September 22, 2022 online and in person in Washington, D.C.
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.
newly appointed President and CEO of The Leadership Conference, delivered the 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.
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
co-CEO of Free Press received the Everett C. Parker Award
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.
Talila “TL” Lewis
co-founder of HEARD, received the Donald H. McGannon Award
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.
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.