Two longtime media justice policy advocates and the founder of the D.C. Black Film Festival will be honored by the UCC on October 11 at the 36th Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture in Washington, D.C.
The UCC Office of Communication, Inc., (OC, Inc.) sponsors the lecture, the only event of its kind in the United States to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.
The Parker Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize the Rev. Parker's pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. Parker founded the UCC's Office of Communication, Inc., in 1959 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 following court battle established the right of ordinary citizens to participate in regulatory proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission. Today those battles go continue, around such issues as Net Neutrality, prison telephone rate reform, and broadcast industry consolidation.
"This year's honorees continue an astounding tradition of Everett Parker's work, 105 years after his birth," said Cheryl Leanza, policy advisor for OC, Inc. "In this era when technology performs the role that media did in the past, the UCC media justice ministry is proud that this year's honorees are not only highlighting excellence by Black and women filmmakers, but also leading change with an expert and powerful voice for the public interest. And this year's lecturer has dedicated her career to caring for organizations that advocate to ensure media and technology are accountable and accessible to all communities—no matter their race, background or income."
Helen Brunner, founding director of the Media Democracy Fund, will deliver this year's lecture. For almost forty years, Brunner has been instrumental in educating philanthropists about the inter-relationships among arts, media, technology and democracy. Her work at the Albert A. List Foundation between 1996 and 2004 led her to launch the Media Democracy Fund in 2006. With MDF, she built one of the first philanthropic organizations dedicated to promoting policies to protect the public's communications rights in the digital age.
Gigi B. Sohn, a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy, will receive the Everett C. Parker Award, in recognition of 30 years of work in support of greater public access to affordable and open broadband technologies. Sohn began her work on media policy at the Media Access Project, taking a leadership role in the transition to digital television and serving on the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television. She helped to reinvigorate the Ford Foundation's support of media and democracy initiatives during her tenure there. From 2001-2013, she served as co-founder and CEO of Public Knowledge, a leading technology policy advocacy organization. She then moved to the FCC, where she served as counselor to Chairman Tom Wheeler from 2013-2016.
Kevin Sampson will be honored with the Donald H. McGannon Award in recognition of special contributions to advancing the role of women and persons of color in the media. As a film critic, writer, producer and director, Sampson has used his talents to promote the work of African-Americans and independent film makers. In 2012, Sampson created Picture Lock, a D.C. area entertainment website, TV show and radio show/podcast, which he continues to produce and host. The following year, he became director of the Rosebud Film Festival, dedicated to highlighting the best of independent films. In 2016, he created the D.C. Black Film Festival to promote positive images of African-Americans and exhibit quality video productions by and about people of African descent. He then launched Picture Lock PR to represent and promote some of the independent films and under-promoted stories he sees in his roles as film critic and festival director.
The Parker Lecture will begin at 8 a.m. at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC. For tickets or more information can be found here.