Today we honor and celebrate another wonderful voice for equality. Many thanks to my friend and regular TSM commenter Christine for recommending Melissa Harris-Perry. Melissa is multi-racial, having a black father and white mother. She is originally from here in the Northwest, Seattle. The family moved to Virgina when she was young, with both parents involved in education.
Harris-Perry is an author, scholar, and professor as well as host of a successful, thought-provoking program on MSNBC. She received her B.A. in English from Wake Forest University and her PhD in political science from Duke. Due to her interest in the influence of the black church on political movements, she also received an honoris causa doctorate from Meadville Lombard Theological School and was a Master of Divinity student at Union Theological Seminary.
While at Wake Forest, she encountered her mentor, the wonderful Maya Angelou.
As her student I watched as she influenced public discourse, taught students, and shared ideas in a way that seemed to truly matter for people’s lives.
Harris-Perry taught political science at the University of Chicago, then moved to Princeton where she was an associate professor of politics and African-American studies. She is currently a professor of political science at Tulane, where she is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South.
She is the author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought on the methods African Americans use to develop political ideas through ordinary conversations in places like barbershops, churches, and popular culture–sounds like good social work to me. Her book won the 2005 W.E.B. DuBois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and the 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.
After years as serving as a commentator, she was offered her own MSNBC weekend show a year ago. She looks at the program as a way to expand her education career, focusing on issues of politics and equality.
All I’ve ever wanted to be is a teacher. Phil Griffin and MSNBC are giving me the chance to have a much bigger classroom.
She is also an outspoken advocate for gay rights and marriage equality. Her work in this area won her an Ally for Equality award from the Human Rights campaign last month.
As a biracial woman with a passion for education and a fascination with religion, Harris-Perry has a firm understanding of the intersections of oppression. She has made it her mission to share that understanding with others with a firm commitment to social justice. Thank you Melissa Harris-Perry for being such a strong advocate and ally!