A 26-year-old woman who was elected to the Athens-Clarke County commission in Georgia refused to swear on the Bible or the U.S. Constitution at her swearing-in but demanded to swear on the autobiography of a famed Muslim radical. Mariah Parker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “They asked if they would like the Bible and I said no. My mother asked if there was a copy of the Constitution around. No.” Referring to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Parker told the newspaper, “I wanted Malcolm’s book. I think they saw it coming.”
Parker won her seat on the county commission in Athens, which is also home to the University of Georgia, by just 13 votes. Drawing her inspiration from the life of Malcolm X, who was also known as Malcolm Little and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, Parker said of the black nationalist leader and minister of the Nation of Islam, “Having seen the transformation of someone who came through a difficult background to become vocal and push conversations on race in a radical way is powerful.”
In a video, Parker can be seen standing next to her mother where she is holding her hand up in a clenched fist rather than an open palm as is customary at such ceremonies. She bears a resemblance to famed Marxist professor Angela Davis, who was active in radical politics in the 1960s and 70s. As a rapper, Parker is known as Lingua Franca.
hey y'all, this is Mariah Parker, the newly elected commissioner of GA district 2 in Athens, Georgia. the book she's being sworn in on is a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. the woman holding the book is her mother. Mariah won by 13 votes.— rachel claire (@rachie_claire) June 7, 2018
please, always vote. it matters. pic.twitter.com/DE6TuLGppq
According to the newspaper, Parker went on to describe Malcolm X and said, “Then he shifted course and saw race in a different lens as he got older,” adding, “And the fact that he was arguably killed for his politics. These are things that I want to embrace.”
A progressive, Parker ran her campaign on social and racial issues. She was elected on June 6.
More recently, she was part of a crowd who protested at the dedication of a monument on the campus of the University of Georgia. The dedication came three years after builders found the graves of about 100 people, presumed to be black slaves, during construction at Baldwin Hall. After UGA President Jere Morehead thanked those in attendance, protesters shouted and took the podium. Among them during the November 16 ceremony was Parker. She and the other protesters bore signs that read “Slaves Built UGA,” “South Campus Used To Be A Slave Plantation” and “UGA Presidents, Chancellors & Students Owned Slaves.”
It was during construction in 2015 that 105 unmarked human grave sites were found underneath Baldwin Hall. The remains were transferred to Oconee Hill Cemetery in March 2017 for reburial. The monument on campus to honor the dead features a plaza with an elevated fountain, a granite marker, two granite benches, and multiple vertical granite rectangular pillars, as well as forget-me-not flowers and dogwood trees.