Office of Communications, Inc.

UCC Media Justice Update

Martin Luther King, Jr. and UCC Media Justice - 60 Years Later

This weekend we celebrate the leadership and sacrifice of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The United Church of Christ has so many proud moments in its legacy working for the U.S. civil rights movement -- including the time a UCC leader met with Dr. King and inspired much of the early media justice movement. The UCC's media justice ministry, called the Office of Communication, Inc., was created after the UCC's original Communications Director, Dr. Everett C. Parker, met with Dr. King. As we get ready to celebrate Dr. King, we're sharing the UCC-made documentary, OC Inc., The Untold Story, as a resource for UCC churches to learn more about this unique UCC connection to MLK's legacy (available in the full 22 minutes or a 6-minute preview.)

Because OC Inc. is celebrating its 60th anniversary, Brian Lapis, one of OC Inc.'s board members, recently took a moment to reflect on his history with OC Inc.  He says:

I remember the moment when my love for the United Church of Christ and my love for the broadcast industry intersected. I was a student at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications when I opened up my communications law and ethics textbook, and there it was: United Church of Christ vs. Federal Communications Commission. The UCC won this case against insurmountable odds, to unseat racist owners from WLBT-TV and to make owners of all broadcast stations accountable to the communities they serve. As Kay Mills describes it in her 2004 book, Changing Channels, this was 'the civil rights case that transformed television.'

The work leading up to those famous court cases came from a meeting in which Dr. King met with Dr. Parker. "Can you do something about the TV stations in the south?" said Dr. King in response Dr. Parker's question about how he could help. And thus, a movement was born. Dr. Parker, whose birthday is January 17th, has been called the "the founder of the citizen movement in broadcasting."

As Brian explained, "while the UCC's work in media justice is not always well known in our churches, it is famous (and at times, relied upon) in the world of media advocacy. The UCC and OC Inc. are household names in the halls of the Federal Communications Commission and justice advocates." 

Take this weekend to learn more about the unique role of the UCC in media justice, watch the 20-minute documentary The Untold Story:

UCC's media justice work continues today -- just last September UCC OC Inc. was a critical part of a court victory case bolstering citizen standing and ownership by women and people of color in broadcasting. We're campaigning to end predatory pricing to communicate with incarcerated people, working to ensure a free and open Internet for all and one that does not spread hate speech. And don't miss the inspirational remarks by the UCC's own Rev. Julian DeShazier from this October's annual Parker Lecture.

Remember that every time you use your TV, radio, phone or internet service, the UCC's media justice work is impacting you!

If you want help support this work, please consider supporting this effective ministry and celebrating of sixty years of this work, with a contribution to our $60 for 60 Campaign

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