Rev. Jesse Jackson Pays Tribute to Parker Legacy, Calls Others to Pursue Media Justice
Originally published: September 25, 2012
Last updated: September 25, 2012 - 7:50pm
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, asserted that “communications issues are the civil rights issues of today” as he delivered the 30th Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture in Washington. Paying tribute to Rev. Everett Parker's "tenacious" pursuit of justice, Jackson described the media system as critical, because the media are the means "our society uses to tell our stories--the stories we use to communicate our values and morals--the media is our window to the world."
He detailed several areas where lack of media access remains a concern:
- The growing digital divide into first class citizens, the digital "haves" and the second-class digital "have nots" Jackson noted that even though use of mobile devices is growing among young African-Americans, the devices can be used for playing "angry birds" but can’t be used “for research papers or filling out college applications,” and that many low income people do not have access to the Internet.
- The "exploitive" system of predatory telephone rates that prisoners often must pay to stay in touch with their families. These rates, he said, "harm the least" among us. He exhorted the Federal Communications Commission to address the 10-year-old petition to address the issue;
- Broadcast ownership rates for women and minorities that still lag well behind the share of the population those persons represent, and consolidation of radio broadcasting that removes studios and their employees from the markets that they serve. He suggested resurrecting policies that helped underserved communities acquire media licenses.
- The failure of several mainstream media networks to cover the plight of two Gambian-Americans who were among those threatened with death by the president of that African country. Jackson recently succeeded in winning the prisoners’ release.
The gathering also honored two other media justice advocates:
- Charles Benton, chairman of the board of Benton Foundation, received the Everett C. Parker Award in recognition of his many years of leadership and support for promoting the public interest in digital and traditional media.
- S. Jenell Trigg, chair of the Intellectual Property and New Media and technology Practice Group of Lerman Senter PLLC, received the Donald H. McGannon Award for her work to promote opportunities in telecommunications media for women and people of color.
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