If you are not familiar with Melissa Harris-Perry, you should be, because she is a baller. She’s long been a personal hero of mine, and I had the pleasure of meeting her in person a few years ago when Samhhita and I totally fan-girled her at YearlyKos. She was exceptionally gracious, and only marginally creeped out that we were staring at her intensely and whispering to each other before we mustered up the courage to go say hi.
In addition to her role at MSNBC, Melissa Harris-Perry is also columnist for The Nation magazine, and will continue to write her monthly column, titled Sister Citizen. Harris-Perry is also a Professor of Political Science at Tulane University, where she will continue to teach, and is the Founding Director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South, housed at the university’s Newcomb College Institute. A celebrated author, Harris-Perry recently published her second book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (Yale 2011), which examines the effects of persistent harmful stereotypes on black women’s politics. Her first book, Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, won the 2005 W. E. B. Du Bois Book Award and 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.
In 2009, Harris-Perry became the youngest scholar to deliver the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard University, as well as the youngest woman ever to deliver the prestigious Ware Lecture. Harris-Perry received her B.A. in English from Wake Forest University, her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University and an honorary doctorate from Meadville Lombard Theological School.
Harris-Perry’s show is also a ground-breaking one. She’s not only a black woman headlining her own program, but she’s a staunch liberal whose politics aren’t just centered on the Dem/Republican horse-race du jour, but on anti-racism, gender and social justice. She is not the typical woman you see on news shows (even though I have great respect for horse-racers like Candy Crowley). And she’s definitely not the typical LOUD YELLY MAN who is a staple of Fox, MSNCB and other networks (see, e.g., Ed Schultz, Olberman, O’Reilly, etc etc). She’s not a rage machine. She’s thoughtful and incisive and intellectually honest, in the vein of Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes (and you’re probably already watching Maddow regularly, but this is perhaps a good time to point out that Chris Hayes’ show is a real gem, and he is the only white dude with a news show who I’ve noticed regularly features women and people of color as his guests, and not just as “colorful” additions to an otherwise mostly-white line-up).
Anyway, this is all very exciting. Congratulations, Melissa! I can’t think of a better person for the job.