Mariah Parker, PhD, is a linguistics scholar, a former Georgia County Commissioner, a rapper (under the stage name Linqua Franqa) and organizer with Raise Up the South, the Southern arm of the Fight for $15 and a Union workers movement.
Mariah first made headlines after being sworn in as an Athens-Clarke County Commissioner, at age 26, with a their hand on a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X held by their mother. Photos of Mariah taking the oath went viral, highlighting the growing numbers of millennial Black people making their voices heard in local politics nationwide. As County Commissioner, Mariah focused on creating economic stability and racial justice as well as criminal justice reform and raising the minimum wage.
She recently resigned that position to work as a labor organizer with Raise Up the South, a pivot that gives Mariah the opportunity to fight for social justice outside the constraints of political office. The move also coincided with the release of the music video for their single, “Wurk,” a powerful pro-worker, pro-union piece that has once again thrust Mariah into the headlines when the song went viral.
She has performed the hit at union conventions and rallies as well as New York’s Lincoln Center, a performance RollingStone magazine called "explosive" and pointed to how the "queer, Black, nonbinary Southerner...dominated the stage, all sinewy limbs and kinetic energy and rapid-fire couplets. Those same tongue-twisting revolutionary rhymes and hyperliterate lyricism shine on their new album, "Bellringer," with lyrics on capitalism, police brutality, mental health, emotional turmoil, and workers’ rights smoothly cutting through the alternating slices of Southern hip-hop, neo-soul, indie-pop, and avant-garde electronic vibes that populate Parker’s extended musical universe."
Mariah's outspoken commitment to racial and economic justice have garnered the attention of other media as well including CNN, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, The Nation, Afropunk, The Root, and The Bitter Southerner, among others.
She is a popular speaker on campuses nationwide. Audiences describe her as "charismatic,” “engaging,” “authentic,” and “inspiring.” Their electrifying live and virtual presentations call audiences to self-reflection and action in their lives and in their communities.