Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker passed away early this morning at the age of 102. He was the first director of Communications in 1957 for the newly-formed United Church of Christ. In that role he founded the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc., a media reform and accountability ministry with a civil rights agenda, that worked to improve the coverage and employment of women and people of color in broadcasting and other media. Dr. Parker was named one of the most influential men in broadcasting by the trade publication Broadcasting Magazine and is featured Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television.
"My heart is broken today. I had the chance to work with Everett at the start of my career and visit with him many times after that. Everett was such a strong leader: his standards were always high, he was always thinking three moves ahead and was prepared for any contingency," said Cheryl Leanza, the current policy advisor for UCC OC Inc.
"We will always be grateful for Dr. Parker's role in bringing community voices to federal agencies. Much of the successful activism today related to Internet openness and media consolidation traces back to Dr. Parker's work in the 1950s and 1960s," noted Earl Williams, chair of UCC OC Inc. Before the litigation brought by UCC OC Inc. against the Federal Communications Commission in a famous duo of cases known as UCC v. FCC, ordinary people had no right to file comments or register their views at the FCC. Mr. Williams explained, "the millions of people who asked the FCC to protect net neutrality last year can credit Dr. Parker and his work at UCC OC Inc. for their right to do so."
Dr. Parker's work and career are commemorated every year in the Annual Parker Lecture and Award Ceremony. The next lecture will be held in Washington DC on October 20, 2015 and will feature a lecture by danah boyd and will honor activists Joseph Torres and Wally Bowen. Tickets and information are available on the UCC OC Inc. web site at www.uccmediajustice.org.
Dr. Parker's family has graciously asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to UCC OC Inc.