Rapper, politician, and activist Mariah Parker will visit Charleston this week for a lecture and a performance a month after one College of Charleston group raised questions about whether CofC’s School of Business should be honoring former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.

Parker is making two stops in as many days in Charleston this week. On Thursday, she’ll appear on campus at CofC’s Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center at 5:30 p.m. for a lecture on intersectionality in politics and activism. The lecture is free and open to the public. On Friday, she’ll perform at the Royal American as Linqua Franqa, her rap persona.

Known for her social activism, Parker was also recently elected commissioner in Athens-Clarke County, Ga. The young, black, openly queer, politician, PhD student, and rapper has been framed by In These Times magazine and The Nation as part of the wave of young women of color “rescuing the Democratic party” and “expanding the parameters of black leadership.”

At the Royal American on Friday, Parker will showcase the catchy hooks that she uses to captivate and speak on social issues. She uses hip-hop to express her opinions, thoughts, and feelings, and she does it well. Local activist Tamika Gadsden, organizer for Black Voters Matter and host of Mic’d Up on Ohm Radio, will provide opening remarks at the beginning of the show. Rapper Benny Starr will perform alongside Franqa. The all-age show is free and begins at 6 p.m.

The CofC lecture, hosted by the Women and Gender Studies program, comes after a group of students sent a letter to President Andrew Hsu and Business School Dean Alan Shao taking issue with plans for the Business School to honor Nikki Haley with the 2020 Woman of Courage Award at its Women for Women Summit planned for Feb. 27.

In a letter on Jan. 13, students representing the Intersectional Cougar Action Network (I-CAN) call back to Haley’s claims that convicted Emanuel gunman Dylann Roof “hijacked” the meaning of the Confederate flag. Before he killed nine at Emanuel AME in 2015, Roof wrote that he was hoping to start a race war, posting photos of himself with the Confederate flag.

“Haley’s comments ignore the harm of this tragedy and form an ahistorical narrative in which political rhetoric is prioritized over history,” the letter reads.

“We therefore believe it is entirely inappropriate to award Nikki Haley the 2020 Woman of Courage award from the Business School. It runs counter to our institutional values of diversity to support such political nonsense that commodifies Black trauma and panders to under-informed voters through factual inaccuracy.”

In the letter, students asked the school to rescind the award and requested “material, reparative actions” that include budget allocations for campus programming and the appointment of a new “Community Leader in Residence” advisory position on campus.

President Hsu responded to I-CAN’s initial letter, stating that he “unequivocally” disagrees with Haley’s remarks about the Confederate Flag and believes the flag is a symbol of hate. Hsu also wrote that he will not overturn the School of Business’ decision to give Haley the award “simply because she and I have different views on some issues.”

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