Mariah Parker is having a moment. In February, she released her debut album “Model Minority” under her rap moniker, Linqua Franqa, with poignant rhymes about self-care, drug addiction, and politics. Now, just as the summer’s kicking off, Parker was sworn in as Athens-Clarke County’s District 2 County commissioner and took the oath of office on “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” Running on a campaign based around economic and racial justice, the twenty-six-year-old won the position by just thirteen votes.
“The policies of this town have been structured, deliberately, to ensure that a certain class of people will continue to thrive and a certain class of people will continue to not,” said Parker to University of Georgia’s student newspaper, The Red and Black.
A linguistics doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia in addition to her music career, Parker has served in numerous leadership roles in various activist groups in advocating equitable treatment for marginalized populations throughout the Athens community. Before announcing her candidacy for the position, Parker served as Tommy Valentine’s campaign manager for his run as commissioner for District 9 in Athens-Clarke County. Since she took office, a picture of Parker rocking her Angela Davis-esque afro while swearing on “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” has been circulating around the news and art publications from The Hill to Afropunk to Teen Vogue.
In her election to the commissioner role, Parker carries the legacy of civil rights leader Malcolm X to the center of Athens’ local government.
“Malcolm’s willingness to uneditedly speak about black people at large, are qualities that I want to embody,” Parker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “To speak out when I see things going wrong.”
According to her website, Parker ran on a platform dedicated to issues of fair wages, racial justice, and access to equitable housing and education opportunities. In her time in office, she plans to curate a “permanent, municipal” civil rights committee for Athens-Clarke County and “will not rest until we have a comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance to protect all Athenians--including people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities--from unfair treatment.”
In response to recent events in Athens, Parker should have her job cut out for her. Last Sunday, an Athens-Clarke County police officer was fired after purposed ramming his vehicle into a fleeing suspect, who was African-American.
“I support swift action in firing the officer who assaulted this young man and urge our community to also help support Mr. Patmon and his family financially as they cope with the aftermath of the incident,” Parker said in a statement on the incident on Facebook.
A progressive candidate with grass-roots credibility, she stands among the 36,000 women who have campaigned for public office since Trump’s election last November. Parker, along with Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms, signals a new league of black women leaders in the state of Georgia.
As county commissioner, she will represent Athens-Clarke County’s District 2 on topics of economic development, social welfare, government spending, among other issues.
Under her rap moniker Linqua Franqa, she is set to perform as part of the 2018 Southern Fried Queer Pride Festival at The Bakery on June 23 as well as open for Aceyalone at 529 on July 25.
Photo by Raphaela Aleman