The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, the UCC's general minister and president, had the privilege of introducing the Rev. Jesse A. Jackson as the lecturer for the 30th annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Communication Lecture in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25. And as Black pointed out, he also had the privilege of not having to follow Jackson at the podium.
"Certainly this year's lecturer really needs no introduction, however it's just my joy and pleasure to introduce him," Black said. Jackson founded Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) in Chicago in 1971, and in 1984 established the National Rainbow Coalition, a social justice organization in Washington, D.C., before the two merged in 1996 to form the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
The Rev. Jackson paid tribute to Everett Parker's vision his remarks. Considered the father of the media reform movement, Parker played a key role in ensuring American media accountability in the public interest, helping aim media reform to improve employment prospects for women and minorities in broadcasting.
"Dr. Parker was a willing mentor (as he) shared his vision of justice and fairness, something many in this room can attest to," Jackson said.
The Parker Lecture, hosted annually by the United Church of Christ's Office of Communication, Inc. (OC, Inc.), was created in 1982 to recognize Parker's pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting as director of the UCC's Office of Communication from 1954-83. The event is the only lecture in the country to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.
"[Parker] worked with leading media companies, establishing training programs for minorities and young people, and secured commitments to hire them," Jackson said.
Parker's idea was so simple, Jackson said. "That people have the right to express their views." Because of Parker's sense of justice, morality and perseverance, American citizens gained access to the FCC and broadcasters were held accountable for their content.
Since its founding in 1959, OC, Inc. has been a leading force in the struggle to ensure that women, persons of color and low-income persons have equal access to ownership, production, employment, and decision making in media.
First Congregational UCC, in Washington D.C., was the site of the lecture and awards presentations. The event also celebrated Parker's 100th birthday, but because of an illness, Parker was unable to attend.
"We're especially are thinking of Everett Parker this morning and pray for his speedy recovery," said the Rev. Sidney Fowler, First Congregational's transitional minister.