UCC Media Justice

UCC Media Justice Update

TL Lewis to Receive McGannon Award

Talila “TL” LEWIS TO RECEIVE MCGANNON AWARD AT 40th ANNUAL EVERETT C. PARKER LECTURE

The United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry announced today that Talila “TL” Lewis, co-founder and outgoing director of the cross-disability abolitionist organization HEARD, will receive UCC Media Justice Ministry’s McGannon Award. Lewis will be honored in recognition of special contributions in advancing justice—specifically for Lewis’s path-breaking advocacy with and for disabled incarcerated people, and work to identify and address the inextricable links between ableism and all forms of oppression.

Talila "TL" Lewis

Lewis co-founded HEARD in 2011 to support deaf, deafblind, deafdisabled, and hard of hearing people affected by incarceration, especially those who were wrongfully convicted. Lewis went on to work on numerous deaf wrongful conviction cases; and provide direct advocacy for incarcerated community members while serving as HEARD’s volunteer director for nearly a decade. Under Lewis’s stewardship, HEARD grew into a cross-disability abolitionist organization that works to end ableism, racism, capitalism, and all other forms of oppression and violence.

Lewis and HEARD’s tiny team (almost all-volunteer for a decade) have advocated with and for thousands of deaf/disabled defendants, incarcerated, and returned people and their loved ones.

Beyond direct advocacy, Lewis is a thought leader, educator, and consultant who works to identify and interrupt the interconnected social, cultural, and structural hierarchies that assign some people and communities less value than others based on “socially constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness.” (Learn more at bit.ly/ableism2022). 

Cheryl A. Leanza, policy advisor at UCC Media Justice, said, “TL's tenacity leaves me in awe. Nothing stops TL’s campaign for abolition of all forms of incarceration and work to illuminate the stories and needs of  multiply-marginalized and incarcerated people. TL worked for years without pay to lead an organization laser-focused on its values and the people most in need on the inside and returning home. Beyond this, TL’s thought leadership helps everyone, whether in the advocacy sector, the government sector, or beyond.”

Lewis will join Parker Lecturer Maya Wiley and Parker Award recipient Jessica J. Gonzalez at the September 22 event in Washington D.C.

The McGannon Award is named after Donald H. McGannon who was a broadcasting industry executive during the formative years of the television industry in the United States. As chairman of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, McGannon used his prominence in broadcasting to influence the regulations, standards, and practices of broadcasting. He was a vocal advocate of social responsibility in broadcasting and worked to educate the public through television.

Learn more and get your tickets.



 

About the UCC Media Justice Ministry and the Parker Lecture

The United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, formerly known as the Office of Communications, Inc., was founded in 1959, just two years after the formation of the UCC as a denomination. Rev. Parker launched the organization and led it until his retirement in 1982. Parker was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to reform television coverage of the civil rights movement in the South. His advocacy in the 1960s resulted in the establishment of the right of all American citizens to participate in hearings before the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC’s 1969 decision to terminate the broadcast license of WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., for its failure to cover its local Black community and the civil rights movement, and thus failing to serve the public interest.

 

The Parker Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize Parker’s pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The Parker Lecture is the only program of its kind in the United States that examines telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.

 

About the United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With approximately 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the United States, the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.

 
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Categories: prison phone  |  ParkerLecture

2022 Parker Honorees Announced


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAYA WILEY, JESSICA GONZÁLEZ TO BE HONORED

AT 40th ANNUAL EVERETT C. PARKER LECTURE

 

Maya Wiley, the nationally recognized civil rights leader, will deliver the 40th annual Everett C. Parker Lecture, the United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry announced today, and Jessica J. González, co-CEO of Free Press, will receive the group’s prestigious Parker Award at the September 22 event.

 

The annual lecture and awards breakfast comes at a time when recent events, including the covid-19 pandemic, have highlighted the role that media and misinformation can play in shaping history and the importance of wider and easier access to broadband connectivity. The ministry, formerly known as the UCC Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc.) will be celebrating one year under its new moniker as the lecture returns to an in-person event at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington that will be hosted simultaneously online.

 
Maya Wiley

Wiley is the newly appointed president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She has worked as a litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc., and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and served as a legal analyst for MSNBC from 2018 to 2021. She co-founded the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), a national policy strategy organization working to end structural racism, which is now part of Race Forward. In addition to her long work on civil rights issues, Wiley served as counsel to then-New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and played a critical role in the city's rollout of affordable broadband services, building on her work at CSI and championing a $10 million investment in affordable broadband in the city. Subsequently she founded the Digital Equity Laboratory at New School University and served as its senior vice president for social justice.

 

Earl Williams Jr., chair of the UCC Media Justice Ministry board, said, "We are so pleased that the fortieth annual Parker Lecture will feature Maya Wiley's vision for racial equity and deep expertise on the importance of technology in achieving that equity and protecting civil rights."

 
Jessica J. González

González will receive the 2022 Parker Award, given in recognition for work that embodies the spirit and mission of the late Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, who founded the UCC Media Justice Ministry. González is an attorney whose advocacy spans a wide range of media justice and racial justice issues. As a former beneficiary herself of the Lifeline program that subsidizes telecommunications services for low-income households, González has worked diligently to fend off attacks on the program. At Free Press and at her prior position at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, she has been a champion of net neutrality and media diversity, and a forceful opponent of media consolidation. She co-founded Change the Terms, building a coalition of more than 60 civil- and digital-rights groups seeking to address online hate speech, and helped lead the “Stop Hate for Profit” boycott, seeking to persuade online companies to take more responsibility for deterring hate speech on their platforms.

 

Tickets and additional information about the event are available through EventBrite and on the UCC Media Justice web page.


 

About the UCC Media Justice Ministry and the Parker Lecture

The United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, formerly known as the Office of Communications, Inc., was founded in 1959, just two years after the formation of the UCC as a denomination. Rev. Parker launched the organization and led it until his retirement in 1982. Parker was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to reform television coverage of the civil rights movement in the South. His advocacy in the 1960s resulted in the establishment of the right of all American citizens to participate in hearings before the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC’s 1969 decision to terminate the broadcast license of WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., for its failure to cover its local Black community and the civil rights movement, and thus failing to serve the public interest.

 

The Parker Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize Parker’s pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The Parker Lecture is the only program of its kind in the United States that examines telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.

 

About the United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With approximately 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the United States, the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.

 
 
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Categories: ParkerLecture

United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry Joins National Effort to Demand Corporate Governance Reforms at Meta

For Immediate Release

May 17, 2022

Contact: Cheryl A. Leanza, cleanza@alhmail.com, 202-904-2168

 

#MakeMarkListen Launches Ahead of Meta's Annual General Meeting on May 24

 

UCC Media Justice is joining a national effort to mobilize and rally support for corporate governance reforms at Meta in advance of the company's annual general meeting next week. The #MakeMarkListen campaign is organizing a collection of activists and advocacy organizations to demand oversight and accountability at Meta on behalf of the general public and shareholders who have been victims of countless harms thanks to Mark Zuckerberg lack of accountability.

 

As part of the #MakeMarkListen campaign, UCC Media Justice is endorsing the shareholder proposals resolutions that will be considered at Meta’s annual general meeting and encouraging shareholders to vote in support of each. "The United Church of Christ's longstanding media justice ministry has always focused on the root causes on injustice. The Meta corporation's governance and ownership structure is exactly one of those root causes. Untold damage to the most vulnerable communities will continue if the most powerful among us face no accountability," said Cheryl A. Leanza, UCC Media Justice's policy advisor.

 

As part of this campaign, UCC Media Justice endorsed two resolutions being considered. The first, proposal #14, directs Meta to independently assess its Audit and Risk Oversight Committee by evaluating its capacity and performance in overseeing company risks to public safety and the public interest. Leanza explained, "Audit committees are an important component of strong corporate governance. But audit committees often don’t have the time, skills, and the support to properly address risk.  In 2018 Meta renamed its audit committee the Audit and Risk Oversight Committee, but Meta has not addressed whether the committee is able to fulfill its obligations."

 

The second endorsed proposal, proposal #9, directs the Board of Directors to commission a third-party assessment of its metaverse project, focusing on the potential harms to users that may be caused by its use and abuse. "Since the beginning of our advocacy with Facebook, civil rights advocates and faith-based advocates have expressed concern that new products are developed without consideration of their negative impacts on vulnerable communities." After Facebook introduced Facebook live, it did not take long for some of the most heinous and tragic hate crimes to be broadcast across the platform. The Center for Countering Digital Hate recently released a report showing that metaverse users, including minors, are exposed to abusive behavior every seven minutes, including sexual harassment, grooming minors to repeat racist slurs, and threats of violence. "The metaverse project shows little sign of being subject to serious testing and evaluation," said Leanza.

 

The lack of independent governance at Meta has not served shareholders well as evidenced by complaints by whistleblower Frances Haugen to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a fall in future earnings projections, and a single-day valuation loss of more than $230 billion.

 

UCC Media Justice is proud to stand alongside its partners in the #MakeMarkListen campaign and the many activists, like the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, which have championed accountability at Meta and other social media companies. Leanza explained, "In the same way that public squares in our communities are held accountable to be free of dangerous potholes, toxic waste and gunfire, our digital public squares must be safe for all to participate and speak their truth. These are sound and reasonable proposals which should be adopted."

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Categories: Online Hate

It’s Time to Call the Vote on Gigi Sohn for a Fully Functioning FCC




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 11, 2022

It’s Time to Call the Vote on Gigi Sohn for a Fully Functioning FCC

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, MediaJustice, Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry Call for Rapid Senate Action This Month

Last week, President Biden renominated Gigi Sohn to be a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). With Alan Davidson’s nomination to lead NTIA heading to confirmation, it is critical that we have a fully functioning FCC to implement much of the work Congress has directed the two agencies to do. Gigi Sohn needs to be voted out of Committee and confirmed by the full Senate. 

For more than a year, the FCC has been operating without a full slate of commissioners, hampering its ability to advance all of the important tasks on its agenda. This is why 350,000 people and counting have taken action in the past year by calling on the White House and Senate to act to get all commissioners confirmed, and more than 100,000 people across the country have weighed in specifically to support Ms. Sohn’s confirmation since she was first nominated in October.

Those action-takers understand the critical role of the FCC in advancing communications policy that is essential to their lives and livelihoods. A broad array of voices across the political spectrum including over 220 groups have also added their support for the Senate to confirm Gigi Sohn without further delay. 

The FCC is charged with protecting public safety; ensuring consumers have access to robust, affordable broadband service; and implementing federal spectrum policy in the public interest. All of this important work and more is being slowed or jeopardized by the Senate’s delays: 

  • Congress has directed the Commission to address broadband affordability, in a program for which the FCC is already developing rules but that will require continued implementation and oversight in the weeks and months ahead.
  • Congress has also charged the FCC with adopting rules to ensure that ISPs do not discriminate in broadband deployment decisions based on race, income and other protected characteristics of the communities they serve.
  • The FCC must act quickly to complete the Congressionally mandated 2018 Quadrennial Review, which is already overdue, and immediately begin the 2022 Quadrennial Review so that it can be completed on time and ensure that broadcast media ownership is diverse and broadcasters are accountable to the communities they serve.
  • The FCC must complete work on a report to Congress within this year regarding the future of the universal service programs, the key program that helps ensure all Americans have affordable broadband available without need for appropriations. 
  • And of course, the FCC needs to begin the process of reversing the misguided decisions of the Pai FCC and reasserting its authority over broadband, an essential service that currently lacks any meaningful federal oversight. 

All of these proceedings need a fully functioning FCC, which means Ms. Sohn needs to be voted out of the Committee this month and moved to the full Senate for a floor vote. The time for these votes is now.



The 5th Seat at the FCC is Still Empty


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End Predatory Costs of Communication for Incarcerated People, Support S. 1541 and H.R. 2489

The cost of communicating with incarcerated people is often predatory and extractive. One in three families with an incarcerated loved one goes into debt trying to maintain contact. While some jails charge almost $17 for a 15-minute local call, others charge only 45 cents. These outrageous rates harm families and make it more difficult for incarcerated people to succeed when they return home.

Policymakers on both sides of the aisle acknowledge that the current marketplace for communication in correctional facilities has failed to produce reasonable and competitive rates. Incarcerated people and their families are not able to choose the phone company they use to communicate. Carceral officials negotiate contracts in an anti-competitive and consolidated marketplace. Often phone companies offer to collect additional ‘commissions’ from consumers in order to make substantial payments to those institutions, which are borne by grandmothers, children, loved ones, clergy and counsel.

Although the Federal Communications Commission regulates phone rates, and Congress gave it authority over all rates for incarcerated people in 1996, a decision by a federal appellate court in 2017 derailed its previous decades-long effort to protect consumers.

Two pieces of legislation in the U.S. House and Senate, both named after Martha Wright—a grandmother who was a leader in fighting for just and reasonable rates before her death—aim to address this problem. The bills are Senator Tammy Duckworth’s bi-partisan S. 1541, the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act and Representative Bobby Rush’s H.R. 2489, the Martha Wright Prison Phone Justice Act. These bills must become law because of their key features.

In Mathew 25:35-40 Jesus explains that the way we treat “the least of these” among us are emblematic of the way we treat God, including those in prison.

“I was in prison, and you visited me,” Jesus says.

“When did we visit you?” ask his followers.

Jesus replies: “As you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters, so you did it to me.”

Protect consumers. The bills reaffirm Congress’ 1996 decision giving the FCC authority over all carceral rates and requires rates to be “just and reasonable”—the same standard that protects all other consumers.

Future-proof. Today’s correctional communications providers utilize advanced technology to save costs and provide security. Both bills apply regardless of technology used, including to video communications.

Fair ratemaking process. Both bills ensure that the FCC can use its standard processes to adopt rates. S. 1541 requires a rulemaking to be completed in 18 months and permits the FCC to use appropriate data. H.R. 2489 requires regular rulemakings to ensure rates keep pace with current trends, prohibits per-call charges and limits ancillary fees.

Site commissions, interim rate cap. H.R. 2489 prohibits payments from a phone company to a carceral institution and adopts an immediate interim rate cap of 4 and 5 cents per minute until the FCC completes its rulemaking proceedings.  

This is UCC Media Justice's new, updated resource guide on current legislation pending to address predatory costs of communication for incarcerated people and their families. A pdf is available for download.

 

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Categories: prison phone



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