Fordham Remembers Professor Who Fought for Civil Rights in Media




On Thursday, Sept. 18 Fordham lost longtime lecturer the Reverend Everett Carlton Parker, Ph.D. aged 102. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1935, joined the Depression-era Works Progress Administration in Washington as a radio producer, and in 1936-37 was the station manager of WJBW in New Orleans. In 1938, he opened an advertising agency in Chicago, but gave it up a year later to train for the ministry. Dr. Parker earned his doctorate in 1943 from the Chicago Theological Seminary. He worked for NBC in New York as a war program manager, and from 1945 to 1957 taught communications at Yale Divinity School, according to the New York Times.

At Fordham, Dr. Parker was a longtime lecturer and adjunct. He is also remembered as a co-founder of the The Donald McGannon Communication Research Center, which is is “dedicated to furthering understanding of the ethical and social justice dimensions of media and communication technologies, particularly how such technologies affect the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within society,” according to the center’s website.

This is in line with Dr. Parker’s landmark work campaigning for civil rights, specifically in television broadcasting networks. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, he challenged multiple broadcast stations successfully for “failing to serve the public interest” by showing racist programming. He continued to petition the Federal Communications Committee, eventually establishing rules banning unfair employment practices by broadcasters.

According to the New York Times, Dr. Parker was “known as the dean of civil rights reforms in broadcasting.”

“All we’ve ever wanted to do is make it possible for people to express themselves through the system of broadcasting,” Dr. Parker told The New York Times in 1983. “If broadcasters are to serve the public interest, they need to be reminded that they serve all the publics.”

Dr. Parker is survived by his daughters, Ruth Weiss and Eunice Kolczun, a son, the Rev. Truman E. Parker, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.