Mariah Parker, 26, made headlines this week after she was elected into office in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, as the new Commissioner for District 2. It was a close race for Parker, who is also a rapper and doctoral student at the University of Georgia. She won by just 13 votes. When she was sworn in this week, instead of using the Bible, she chose to use a well-worn copy of the Autobiography of Malcolm X, which was held by her mother. Proudly sporting a full afro and raising her fist in the universal sign of Black power, she now represents a neglected part of East Athens she intends to make better.
Published in 1965, The Autobiography of Malcolm X was written by the iconic author Alex Haley ,who wrote the book Roots. The book is required reading at many HBCUs across the country and even some high schools. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is considered the quintessential story of Malcolm X’s life as told by the man himself and has changed the lives of millions, including, it seems, Parker. She told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution (AJC), “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. I wanted Malcolm’s book. I think they saw it coming.”
Parker ran on a platform that included economic justice, reducing poverty and discrimination, affordable housing, fair wage jobs, youth development, criminal justice reform and marijuana reform. She went on to state to the AJC, “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. Then he shifted course and saw race in a different lens as he got older. And the fact that he was arguably killed for his politics. These are things that I want to embrace.”