He holds a B.S. in Public Service from Penn State University, an M.S. from the New School for Social Research's Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, and is in the process of pursuing a doctoral degree in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Elected to the State Senate in 2002, Parker is the Ranking Minority Member on the Energy and Telecommunications Committee, as well as a member of standing committees on Environmental Conservation, Higher Education, Insurance, Commerce, and Veterans. He is also the chairman of the Senate Democratic Task Force on New Americans, as well as that of an Alternative Energy Future.
In the September 9, 2008 Democratic primary, Parker held off a strong challenge from New York City Councilmembers Simcha Felder and Kendall Stewart, and held onto his seat with a little less than half the vote.
Prior to his election-where he defeated former City Councilman Noach Dear in a very tightly-contested Democratic primary-Parker served in numerous capacities. Chiefly as the Special Assistant to former Comptroller H. Carl McCall, but also as a New York City Urban Fellow, a Special Assistant to former Manhattan Borough President and mayoral candidate Ruth Messinger, legislative aide to former City Councilwoman Una Clarke, and Special Assistant to Assemblyman N. Nick Perry.
He has also served as Project Manager with the New York State Urban Development Corporation, and as a consultant to Paine Webber. In addition to his work in the State Senate, Parker is also a professor of African-American Studies and Political Science at several colleges within the City University of New York system, primarily Brooklyn College, where he is also a faculty advisor to student organizations.
In the 2012 elections, Parker avoided an upset by defeating Conservative candidate Mindy Meyer by a comfortable margin.
In January 2005, Parker was arrested after punching a traffic agent in the face during a dispute over a traffic citation that he had been issued. He was subsequently charged with third degree assault, a misdemeanor. The charges were dropped after he agreed to take anger management classes.
In 2008, an aide filed charges against Parker, claiming he pushed her during an argument and smashed her glasses.
On May 8, 2009, Parker was charged with felony criminal mischief for attacking a New York Post photographer and damaging the photographer's camera and car door. According to prosecutors, the photographer's finger was broken in the alleged attack. Parker was charged with a felony due to the value of damage to the camera and car door. As a result, he was stripped of his leadership position as majority whip and chair of the Energy Committee. Parker was convicted of a misdemeanor charge, criminal mischief, and on March 21, 2011 was sentenced to three years probation and a $1,000 fine. Had he been convicted of the felonies, he would have automatically lost his seat in the Senate, and the Senate had already expelled Hiram Monserrate for misdemeanor charges earlier in the year. The Senate Democrats have indicated an unwillingness to expel Parker as they did Monserrate.
In February 2010, Parker was restrained by his colleagues during a profane tirade against Senator Diane Savino, in which Parker referred to Savino as a "b****".
In April 2010, Parker launched into an outburst while colleague John DeFrancisco of Syracuse was questioning a black nominee for the New York State Power Authority. "Amid the nearly two-minute tirade, committee chairman Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) told Parker he would be removed from the hearing room if he didn't settle down." Parker accused his colleagues of racism, and followed up in a radio interview by accusing his Republican "enemies" of being white supremacists. Following the tirade, Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) was quoted as saying that Parker "need[ed] help."