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Tributes Continue for Dr. Everett Parker

Reaction continued to flow in following the news of the death of civil and media rights pioneer Dr. Everett C. Parker, whose accomplishments included launching the United Church of Christ's Office of Communications, securing individual rights to challenge broadcast licenses and cofounding the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council.

Soon after his death was announced Sept. 17, FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the first black woman to chair the FCC, said:

"Considered by many a founder of the 'Media Justice Movement,' he established the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, 'a media reform and accountability ministry with a civil rights agenda.' He was committed to improving the coverage and employment of women and people of color in broadcasting and other media before it was cool."

"In 1964, along with the NAACP and at the urging of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Parker petitioned the FCC to deny the license renewal of WLBT, a local broadcast station in Jackson, Mississippi with ties to the White Citizens Council. The station openly used its platform to oppose the integration of the local universities. While the FCC denied their petition, the Supreme Court – in 1969 – ruled that the broadcast industry was required to serve the public interest and the station was ultimately stripped of its license. This case was foundational in determining that there is a recognized connection between the use of publicly-owned airwaves by private companies and a duty to serve the public."

"I met this incredible man around the time of his 97th birthday. He was engaged, supportive and sage (forecasting the day when there would be a female chair of the FCC). I never forgot those words and sent him a note thanking him for voicing that sentiment during my term as Acting Chair."

Courtesy of MMTC and others, here are some more reflections on his life and work.

“A truly great man has passed. We who were blessed to know him will never be the same. He was a man of God and a man of the people. His never-ending quest to end discrimination and promote the interests of the minority population is an example to all Americans. Rest in peace, Everett. We shall always miss you and keep a place in our hearts for you.”— Hon. Henry Rivera, chair Emeritus, MMTC board of directors, partner, Wiley Rein, and former FCC commissioner.

“Everett Parker’s name became synonymous with the public interest in media. He inspired generations of people inside and outside of industry to work for greater diversity and inclusion.  He will be remembered for his passionate, principled, and dedicated advocacy and for effecting real change.”—Joseph Waz, Jr., member, MMTC board of advisors and senior counselor, creative content protection, NBCUniversal.

"Dr. Parker was a truly larger-than-life figure that blazed the trail for groups like NHMC and others that recognize the intersection between media and telecommunications and civil rights. He developed the playbook for this type of work, teaching us how to hold broadcasters accountable and how to engage everyday people in these important issues. He was a brilliant and tireless advocate that made his mark on this country. The legacy that he leaves in this field is unparalleled."—Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

“All of us who work for a just media system that represents and responds to the public owe a debt to Everett Parker. Dr. Parker paved the way to ensure that people could challenge powerful media companies and advocate for the media they deserve. Dr. Parker helped inspire generations of advocates and activists, within and beyond the civil rights and faith communities, to fight media injustice. His long lifetime of good work should be an example to all of us as that struggle continues. We send our condolences to his family and all of his colleagues at the United Church of Christ."—Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.