This Inspiring 26-Year-Old Politician Was Sworn in on Malcom X’s Autobiography

When newly elected Mariah Parker was sworn in as the Athens-Clarke county commissioner in Georgia last week, her bold decision to use Malcolm X’s autobiography instead of the bible quickly went viral. But that’s not the only incredible aspect of this inspiring 26-year-old politician’s story.

On Tuesday, June 5, on the steps of Athens City Hall, Mariah Parker was sworn in with one hand on The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the other raised high in a fist. Images of the glorious ceremony quickly spread around social media.

“I honestly did not expect there to be such a clamoring of public response,” said Parker about the ceremony. “It just seemed to me to be the sensible thing to do given my politics and who I am.”

Mariah Parker is “black, openly queer, a PhD candidate in linguistics, a rapper, and dedicated to transformative politics for communities of color.”

All of that combined with the imagery of the ceremony, a young, black woman with an afro and a raised fist, made the swearing in ceremony alone something of a revolution. We simply don’t see enough women like Parker becoming politicians, which is part of the reason the viral photos struck a chord.

Parker had told herself that people like her don’t run for office, and she’d resigned herself to making a difference behind the scenes. But after working on the campaign for Tommy Valentine, who ran for county commissioner in another district, Parker says Valentine encouraged her to run.

“You can’t wait for a hero to show up. If you see injustice and you see a need for someone to take action, it has to be you,” she told Teen Vogue. “Some of [those past struggles] are important for the styles of governance I strive to have.”

And so she ran. And she won—by 13 votes.

Parker ran on a progressive platform, though she describes her politics as centered on transformation rather than progression. Her platform included fair wages, ending discrimination, affordable transportation, and “fair access to lifelong education opportunities for every single person in Athens.”

“A lot of commissioners are comfortable with keeping the conversation on sidewalk widths, but I want to have a bigger conversation about decreasing the prison population, income equality, and encouraging our young people to engage with society rather than getting involved with crime and increasing the prison population,” she told Teen Vogue.

Parker is part of a growing number of women, particularly women of color, who are tired of being represented by people who don’t understand their experiences. Since the presidential election, record numbers of women have been running for office and although there’s still a long way to go, we’ve seen a diversity in politics on all levels that we’ve never seen before.

Parker is right, people like her usually don’t run for office. But can you imagine what would happen if they did?

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Belinda Lang
Belinda Lang5 months ago

I hope she does a good job in representing her constituents.

Winnie A
Winn Adams5 months ago


Winnie A
Winn Adams5 months ago


Chrissie R
Chrissie R5 months ago

Thanks for posting.

Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti5 months ago

The United States Constitution is a completely secular political document. It begins "We the people," and contains no mention of "God," "Jesus," or "Christianity." Its only references to religion are exclusionary, such as the "no religious test" clause (Article VI), and "Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." (First Amendment)

The presidential oath of office, the only oath detailed in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase "so help me God" or any requirement to swear on a Bible (Article II, Section 1).

The words "under God" did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, when Congress, under McCarthyism, inserted them.

Similarly, "In God we Trust" was absent from paper currency before 1956, though it did appear on some coins beginning in 1864.

The original U.S. motto, written by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, is "E Pluribus Unum" ("Of Many, One") celebrating plurality and diversity.

In 1797, America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington's presidency and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti5 months ago

This is news? I'll alert the media. Far from treating Barack Obama as a regular American guy in love with Michelle, the Republicans accuse him of being a "Muslim" even though Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution clearly states: "No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Tulsi Gabbard, a Hare Krishna devotee, a vegetarian, was elected to Congress in 2012 as a Democrat, and sworn in on the Bhagavad-gita, Hinduism's most sacred scripture. I don't think that would have happened if she were a Republican. The other side would have debated whether or not she has to "work" for her salvation, whether or not she's worshipping the "devil," worried she's in a "cult," etc. George Harrison once said there are a lot of "closet Krishnas" out there. The other side treats us as a "cult" and wonders why?

The pro-life movement desperately needs religious diversity. Pro-lifers should welcome people of other faiths and those of no faith. Not everyone in the United States is a Christian. This country wasn't founded by Christians: many of America's founding fathers were Deists. There are other faiths, besides the Abrahamic faiths. There are other holy books out there besides the Bible or the Koran, like the Bhagavad-gita, which also claim to be the word of God.

Shirley S
Shirley S5 months ago

I don't like swearing.

Alea C
Alea C6 months ago

I look forward to reading more about this impressive young lady as she continues on her political journey.

Loredana V
Loredana V6 months ago

She ran. She won.
The land of mass shootings, made by immigrants but racist: it makes me laugh that people care so much for a book, written by men, that is full of blood and homicides.
She is not hypocrite, that's all.

Mark T
Mark Turner6 months ago