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Honored with the
Presented by Ambassador Andrew Young
Thursday, Nov. 16, 2000

As a student at Chicago Theological Seminary and as a lecturer in communications at Yale Divinity School in the 1930’s and 40’s Everett Parker recognized the power of the mass media – radio in particular in those days, although the potentially enormous power of television was soon evident to him. This recognition caused him to organize the interdenominational Joint Protestant Radio Committee. When the National Council of Churches was formed Everett brought the Joint Protestant Radio Committee together with the Protestant Film Committee, headed by Si Mack, to form a new agency within the NCC – the Broadcasting and Film Commission. He later served as the chair of the BFC in 1970-72, but before that from 1949 to 1954 he headed a Communications Research Project, sponsored by Yale Divinity School and the National Council of Churches. So, Everett is connected with all of us in many ways over the years.

However, it was his work as Director of the Office of Communication for the United Church of Christ for which Everett is best known. During his 30 years as head of this agency he challenged both the communications industries and the churches to meet the highest standards of broadcasting professionalism and to act in the public interest. He was cited by the Associated Press for "bringing professional skills to church communications" and "for playing a key role" in getting American churches "talking to the world at large and showing them how to do it." His best known achievement was challenging the license renewal of WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964 because of their practice of discrimination against African American members of their own community – a victory which not only resulted in a change of ownership at the station but most importantly gave the public standing before the Federal Communications Commission.

Since then Everett has worked tirelessly to champion citizens’ rights – especially minority and women’s rights – within the mass media. He has successfully petitioned the FCC to issue EEO rules, he has advised communities on securing public access in their franchise negotiations with cable companies, he has defended the equal time rule for political candidates when it was under attack, and he created a consumer coalition to deal with a restructured telephone industry after the breakup of the Bell system. Most recently, he has been assisting the UCC and other denominations in urging Congress to support the FCC’s efforts to provide low-power radio to communities so that local people of color, churches, schools, and civic groups could "have their voices carry through their communities".

Everett Parker continues his efforts to encourage young people to become involved in issues that affect the body politic through the mass media as an Adjunct Professor of Communication at Fordham University, teaching courses in communication policy and ethics.

We honor Everett Parker today; he has been honored many times before. He received the first Pioneer Award from the North American Broadcast Section of the World Association for Christian Communication. An annual luncheon has been held in his name for the past 18 years, with an Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunication lecture. He was the first person to receive the Alfred I. Dupont/Columbia University Award, which cited "his long and devoted advocacy of the public interest in broadcasting. Fordham University in 1980 awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

I consider Everett Parker a colleague-in-arms in the struggle for human rights in this country and around the world, and it is with a deep joy and sense of satisfaction that I present this National Council of Churches President’s Award to the Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker.

November 16, 2000

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