31st Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunication Lecture and Awards Breakfast

United Church of Christ's media justice ministry, Office of Communication, Inc.
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
8:00 AM

The United Church of Christ’s historic media justice ministry, the Office of Communication, Inc., announced the three media justice advocates who will be recognized this fall at the 31st Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture and Awards Ceremony:

  • The 2013 Parker Lecture will be delivered by Hilary O. Shelton, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Director NAACP Washington Bureau.
  • Albert H. Kramer, founder of the Citizens Communications Center, will receive the Everett C. Parker Award, recognizing an individual whose work embodies the principles and values of the public interest in telecommunications.
  • Malkia Amala Cyril, founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice, will receive the Donald H. McGannon Award, given in recognition of special contributions in advancing the roles of women and persons of color in the media and in the media reform movement.

Hilary O. Shelton brings a depth of experience and insight that should continue the Parker Lecture’s long history of inspirational and thought-provoking speakers. In his current position, Shelton is responsible for advancing the federal policy agenda of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. He has been an outspoken advocate for diversity in the media and importance of communications policy with respect to vindicating civil rights. He has been instrumental in the passage of such key pieces of legislation as The Civil Rights Act of 1991, The Civil Rights Restoration Act, The Violence Against Women Act, The Hate Crimes Statistics Act, The Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act, The National Voter Registration Act, The National Assault Weapons Ban, Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and the Help America Vote Act.

Prior to joining the NAACP, he served with The College Fund/UNCF, also known as The United Negro College Fund, and the United Methodist Church’s social justice advocacy agency, The General Board of Church & Society. He is a member of People’s Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington.

Albert H. Kramer has been a tireless advocate for the public interest in telecommunications since he left a large law firm in 1969 to found the Citizens’ Communications Center, playing a major role in OC Inc.’s own historic work during that era. The Media Access Project was “incubated” at the center during Kramer’s tenure, and he went on to spend 20 years on MAP’s board of directors, 15 of them as chairman. He served as director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection during the Carter administration, one of the agency’s most activist periods. During this time, the agency addressed a wide range of consumer issues, including used car sales, truth-in-lending laws, fair credit regulations, abusive funeral home practices and, for the first time, unfair advertising targeted at children. He also served as the founding chairperson of the Communications Consortium Media Center, and served there as a board member for more than 20 years.

As a lawyer once again engaged in private practice, Kramer was a leader in firmly establishing the rights of private users and competitors to connect to what was then the monopoly telephone network and ensuring the right to nondiscriminatory treatment. In the wake of the divestiture of AT&T, his work on behalf of equipment manufacturers and other technology companies helped lead to an explosion of innovation on the edge of the network. He has continued to play key roles in advocating for the public interest in proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and during the months leading up to the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

For the past 15 years, Malkia Amala Cyril has worked to increase the diversity and accountability of the media reform movement itself, and to help grass-roots social justice leaders, including women, young people and persons of color, learn the skills they needed to be effective advocates. In 2001, she founded the Youth Media Council in Oakland, California, demonstrating the close connections between the political activism of young people and the media. While there, she authored a number of important works, including an analysis of newspaper coverage of juvenile justice in California and assessments of local television and radio stations monitored by young people.

Out of that work, Cyril went on in 2008 to found the Center for Media Justice (CMJ), a national organization committed to creating media and cultural conditions to strengthen the movements for racial justice, economic equity and human rights. Cyril later co-founded the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), which brings together more than 120 affiliated organizations nationwide to advance a shared agenda for media justice. Through her leadership, CMJ has helped to equip the next generation of media reform activists through training, field organizing and grassroots education and advocacy. The daughter of activists who instilled a deep appreciation for culture, movement-building and social justice, Cyril is also an accomplished creative writer, her work has been published in In the Tradition: An Anthology of Young Black Writers, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, and Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing.

The Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize the Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, founder of OC Inc., and his pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The event is the only lecture in the country to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective. Past speakers have included network presidents, Congressional leaders, FCC chairs and commissioners, as well as academics, cable and telephone executives and journalists. For ticket information visit www.uccmediajustice.org/parker2013.

The Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination with some 5,700 local congregations, recognizes the unique power of the media to shape public understanding and thus society as a whole. For this reason, the UCC’s OC, Inc. works to create just and equitable media structures that give a meaningful voice to diverse peoples, cultures and ideas. Established in 1959, OC Inc. ultimately established the right of all citizens to participate in FCC proceedings as part of its efforts to ensure a television broadcaster in Jackson, MS, served its African-American viewers during the height of the civil rights movement.