Imagine media and telecom industry experts and insiders joining together to discuss issues affecting underserved communities. That’s exactly what happened on the second day of the Minority Media & Telecom-Broadband & Social Justice Summit.
During the MMTC Summit’s High Tech Policy Luncheon, legendary communications and civil rights attorney David Honig, Founder & President of MMTC, delivered his annual “State of Broadband and Social Justice” address.
“The modern era of civil rights in the media began in 1951, two years after I was born,” Honig began his address. “In that year the NAACP asked the FCC to hold a hearing on “Amos and Andy”. In that same year, Langston Hughes wrote these words: ‘What happens to a dream deferred?’”
Unsure of where Honig was going, but familiar with the poem, the audience answered back; but then he brought it back home,
“The State of Broadband and Social Justice in 2013 can be described in those same three words: ‘A Dream Deferred’.”
There was a deafening silence as the truth of the comparison settled on the room.
Within his address, Attorney Honig addressed the social justice consequences of delaying progress by spotlighting the hundreds of young people in prison who were broken by the “Wright Petition” to get prison payphones. He also spoke about the hundreds of people in hurricane zones who won’t receive life-saving information during a hurricane because of the inaction of the FCC in regards to the 2005 “Katrina Petition” to require multilingual broadcasting in emergencies.
Honig further discussed the need for the FCC to review pending proposals that concern minority media and telecom ownership and media incubators. He stated, “Diversity and inclusion help bring universal connectedness, which is a public good of immense value.”
Honig ended his address by expressing his admiration of the Federal Communications Commission, praising the work of FCC veterans and current MMTC stakeholders, and recognizing the inaugural meeting of the new Telecom and Internet Policy Taskforce. The taskforce will be co-chaired by former Congressmen EdTowns and Cliff Stearns, and its highest priority will be helping to cure the illness of inaction at the FCC regarding social justice issues.
Former FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein also addressed the summit. Currently he serves as the President & CEO of the PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association. Throughout his career, Commissioner Adelstein helped spotlight issues of access and availability of communications across all communities, including underserved communities. Commissioner Adelstein addressed the fact that the wireless industry is a fast moving and innovative sector that is rapidly changing amongst minority communities.
“Wireless is the first technology in history for which people of color are lead adopters. Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic internet access are using wireless connections to go online.”
Commissioner Adelstein specifically noted that “those that use the network, including minority communities, should participate in building the network.” This includes encouraging more minorities to pursue jobs in wireless such as construction, site acquisition, engineering, and compliance-where people are working directly to bring these services into their communities.
The luncheon closed with an interview of Eric Hamilton, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of “Around the Way” app, a mobile app that helps users to automatically find Black-owned business in their vicinity, and founder of the WebAcademy, an online web school which recently reached its 4000th enrollment.
David Honig’s full address can be accessed here.