Details

Biography
Topics
African Americans
Art & Politics
Economy/Economic Visions
Education
Electoral Politics
Hip Hop
Leadership
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer
Mental Health
Multiculturalism
Performance
Programs for High School Students
Racism/Racial Justice
Women & Feminism
Youth/Student Activism

Mariah Parker is part of a new wave of young women of color entering politics. She made headlines last summer after being sworn in as an Athens-Clarke County Commissioner, at age 26, with a her hand on a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X held by her mother. Photos of her taking the oath went viral, highlighting the growing numbers of millennial Black women making their voices heard in local politics nationwide.

Mariah is also openly queer, a hip hop artist (her stage name is Linqua Franqa), a PhD candidate in linguistics at the University of Georgia, and community organizer dedicated to transformative politics and civic engagement. As County Commissioner, she is focusing on creating economic stability and racial justice as well as criminal justice reform and raising the minimum wage.

Between the release of a critically-acclaimed debut album and her tight election to the county commission, Parker has garnered the attention of CNN, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, The Nation, Afropunk, The Root, The Bitter Southerner, Performer Magazine and others for her outspoken commitment to racial and economic justice and her electrifying live performances and presentations, which call audiences to self-reflection and critical action in their lives and their communities.

Testimonials

“Mariah Parker has presented at the UGA College of Education’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference for the last two years. And the word “presented” actually doesn’t do justice to the way Mariah deeply engages the audience and unapologetically lays bare the systems of injustice that implicate us all. Mariah’s honesty, passion, and creativity is unmatched, urging the academy to sit with discomfort and vulnerability while also embracing room for growth.”
— Briana Bivens, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office of the College of Education, University of Georgia

“Mariah spoke openly and honestly about how both her personal experiences and generative dialogue with community residents led her to become a performer, an activist, an advocate for civic engagement, and ultimately a County Commissioner. Students described Mariah as “relatable,” “charismatic,” “engaging,”  “authentic,” and “inspiring.” I cannot speak highly enough about Mariah’s ability to incite in all of us a desire to take action towards social justice!”
— Christina Hanawalt, Art Education, University of Georgia
 
“Mariah captivated an audience of 500 high school juniors when she came to speak at our social justice symposium. Her authenticity and approachable style drew the students in and her inspirational message kept them engaged for the entire talk.”
— Tara Stuart, Winder-Barrow High School, Winder GA

“What a fantastic experience it was having Mariah speak to my students! She carefully and thoughtfully outlined her job in a way the students could respond to and understand. The students were engaged listening to her speak and it was wonderful to see them making connections and asking questions. Mariah’s effective, eloquent speech has left a lasting impression on my students, who’ve asked several times for her to return and talk with them again. My sincere hope is that Mariah can return each year to speak to future classes about her knowledge and role in government. Her ability to connect with young people through words is a profound gift that should be shared. “
— Laura Valentine, Chase Street School, Athens, GA

Speeches

Seeing the Staircase: Running For Office
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Two years ago, Mariah Parker would have never imagined herself running a political campaign, let alone her own. She was a young, queer Black woman, a student, rapper and community activist. Yet as she saw injustices all around her and the need for someone to talk action, she realized she had to step up, joining the wave of young woman of color across the country running for and winning political office. In this presentation, she discusses what it means to take the first step in faith, and what “the full staircase” could look like for an abolitionist inside the world of government.

Taking the Leap: From Hip Hop to Local Government
As a leading rapper in Georgia's hip hop scene, how did Mariah Parker draw on that experience to seek a seat on the local county commission? In this semi-autobiographical presentation, Mariah talks about how she realized that the skills of hip hop artists are applicable to the political sphere as well - the ability to gather and move a crowd, the skills to articulate your ideas creatively and succinctly in a way that inspires people to action, the connection to the problems that the community is facing, and fearlessness in standing up to speak your truth in the face of opposition.

Solidarity Across Debilities: Why Black Disability Justice Matters
“Two cousins with bipolar diagnoses. One in rehab, her son in jail for murder; another stands before you today.”
In this talk, Mariah draws upon family histories to illuminate the linkages between mental illness, mass incarceration, and our current healthcare system, arguing for new vision and tighter embrace of disability justice within our movements for Black life.

Media