Last month, Rev. Everett Parker celebrated his 100th birthday. In 1963, at the request of Martin Luther King, Parker led a civil rights campaign to fight racist bias on local television broadcasts in Jackson, Mississippi. Appealing to the FCC for help, and eventually the courts, Parker’s campaign succeeded in getting the station shut down. Perhaps more importantly, the campaign established for the first time that members of the public have standing to demand fair treatment from private broadcasters making use of the public airwaves.
Often, people’s struggles for justice and freedom have played out with relation to the press, or freedom of expression. To help highlight those connections in a fun and educational way, I worked with Reclaim the Media a few years ago to design and distribute a set of trading cards featuring “media heroes” like Parker–journalists and activists who took seriously the role of journalism to safeguard people’s rights in a democratic society.