Georgia official raises black power fist, uses ‘Autobiography of Malcolm X’ for swearing-in

On Monday, Mariah Parker a 26-year-old University of Georgia doctoral student just elected to the Athens-Clarke County Commission by a very narrow margin, was sworn into her new office.  Ordinarily, this wouldn’t make the news, except for Parker’s rather unconventional swearing-in.  Not only did she raise a black power fist, she decided to take her oath using the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” instead of the Bible.

According to Ernie Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

On the steps of the Athens City Hall, Parker cocked her right fist in the air and before taking the oath of office, placed her left hand on a well-worn copy of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” held by her mother, Mattie Parker.

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“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,” Parker said. “I wanted Malcolm’s book. I think they saw it coming.”  Images of Parker’s swearing in, particularly her towering Angela Davis afro, have flooded social media this week.

Published in 1965, just weeks after his assassination, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” is regarded by many critics and scholars as one of the most important autobiographies of the 20th century.

So, where does Parker stand on the issues?  Suggs gives us a clue:

A progressive who describes herself as openly queer, Parker was motivated to run for office because of what she saw was a need for vocal leadership.

She beat Taylor Pass by 13 votes, running on a platform of economic justice, reducing poverty and discrimination, affordable housing, fair wage jobs, youth development, criminal justice reform and marijuana reform.

Reaction on Twitter was rather mixed:

The Daily Caller noted:

Admitting that she only finished reading the book last year, Parker said that it had truly resonated. She explained, “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.”

Parker, the report said, is a doctoral student in language and literacy education at the University of Georgia.

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