Melissa V. Harris-Perry was the host of msnbc’s “Melissa Harris-Perry.” until 2016.
Currently, she is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, an endowed position that recognizes and supports exceptional faculty who embody Wake Forest’s teacher-scholar ideas. Harris-Perry joined Wake Forest from Tulane University, and has previously served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and Princeton University.
Harris-Perry is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. Named for the foundational black feminist intellectual, activist, and educator of the early 20th century, the Anna Julia Cooper Project supports related programs, courses and research and will move with Harris-Perry to Wake Forest.
Harris-Perry is author of the well-received book “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America” (Yale 2011) which argues that persistent harmful stereotypes-invisible to many but painfully familiar to black women-profoundly shape black women’s politics, contribute to policies that treat them unfairly and make it difficult for black women to assert their rights in the political arena. Her first book, “Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought,” won the 2005 W. E. B. Du Bois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.
Professor Harris-Perry is a columnist for The Nation magazine, where she writes a monthly column also titled Sister Citizen. In addition to hosting her own show on msnbc she provides expert commentary on U.S. elections, racial issues, religious questions and gender concerns for a variety of other media outlets.
Her academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate the challenges facing contemporary black Americans and to better understand the multiple, creative ways that African Americans respond to these challenges. Her work is published in scholarly journals and edited volumes and her interests include the study of African American political thought, black religious ideas and practice, and social and clinical psychology.
Professor Harris-Perry’s creative and dynamic teaching is also motivated by the practical political and racial issues of our time. Professor Harris-Perry has taught students from grade school to graduate school and has been recognized for her commitment to the classroom as a site of democratic deliberation on race.
She travels extensively speaking to colleges, organizations and businesses in the United States and abroad. In 2009 Professor Harris-Perry became the youngest scholar to deliver the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard University. Also in 2009 she delivered the prestigious Ware Lecture, becoming the youngest woman to ever do so.
Professor 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. She also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is the wife of an extraordinary community activist, James Perry, and is the mother of two terrific daughters, Parker and Anna James.
Professor Harris-Perry is a trustee of The Century Foundation. Founded in 1919, The Century Foundation provides creative, progressive solutions to our important domestic and international challenges. Fellows at The Century Foundation – among the most accomplished experts in the country – advance distinctive, workable ideas built on compelling evidence.
Professor Harris-Perry also sits on the advisory board for “Chef’s Move!,” a program whose mission is to diversify kitchen management by providing training, experience and mentorship to minority applicants from New Orleans, sending them to New York City for culinary school training and then bringing them back again to become leaders in the kitchen and in their community.
With more than 20 No. 1 R&B hits, singles sales that have long since surpassed the $10 million mark, nearly 50 Top 40 hits and 18 Grammy awards to her name, Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” is easily reckoned as one of the greatest musical icons of all time. Though her passing at age 76 leaves behind family, friends and a music world in mourning, it also bequeaths an inheritance of one of the finest catalogs in modern history and the chance to reflect on the life of the woman behind such songs as “Respect,” “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Born on March 25, 1942, it could be said of Aretha Franklin that music was woven into the fabric of her being. Not only was her birthplace — Memphis, Tennessee — one of the most important cities in the history of blues and rock ‘n’ roll, but her father, C. L., was a Baptist minister and gospel singer known nationwide as “The Man with the Million-Dollar Voice.” He moved the family to Detroit — another musical hotbed — in 1944. Aretha’s mother, Barbara, was a singer as well, although she left the family when Aretha was just six and died four years later, the first in a long string of heartaches that would run through her life.
By the middle of the 1950s, Aretha had learned to play piano and, along with her sisters, was singing in her father’s church choir. She also toured the gospel circuit with C. L. during this time and became acquainted with the likes of Clara Ward, Mahalia Jackson and Smokey Robinson, as well as civil rights figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson, who were among her well-connected family’s many notable friends.
But soon life began to move quickly for Aretha. In 1956, at age 14, she released her first album, a gospel recording called Songs of Faith. Two years later after being courted by Sam Cooke to sign with RCA Records and Berry Gordy with his Motown label, in 1960 she signed to Columbia Records and moved to New York to begin her career.
Working with producer John Hammond, over the next five years Aretha would find moderate success, releasing nine albums and several R&B hits but only one Top 40 pop offering, 1961’s “Rock-a-bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody.” That same year, she married a man named Ted White, with whom she would have her third son, Teddy Jr. But Aretha had yet to reach her full potential, and it would take a label move and a new producer to allow her to fully tap the wellspring of her talent and usher in the greatest period of her lengthy career.
In 1966 Aretha signed with Atlantic Records. Working with producer Jerry Wexler and backed by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, she finally found the right chemistry to make magic happen, setting the passion of gospel into a framework of pop. In 1967 her I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You was released to great acclaim, with the title track giving Aretha her first Top 10 hit.
The albums Aretha Arrives (1967), Lady Soul (1968) and Aretha Now (1968) followed, bringing the world such legendary offerings as “Respect,” “Think,” “Chain of Fools,” “Baby, I Love You,” “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and earning Aretha several Grammy Awards, the cover of the June 1968 issue of Time magazine and her “Queen of Soul” nickname. Transcending her popularity as a singer, she also became a symbol of pride for black Americans at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and a symbol of strength for women as the feminist movement began to gain traction.
Franklin carried her Midas touch into the 1970s, with hits like “Don’t Play That Song” and her reworking of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” giving Aretha more million-sellers than any woman in history. Additionally, her 1972 album, Amazing Grace, became the best-selling gospel album of all time.
She also began to branch out in the studio, working with legendary producers Curtis Mayfield and Quincy Jones, and continued her awards success with her eighth consecutive Grammy, for 1975’s “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.” With the new decade came new beginnings for Aretha. In 1980 she signed a contract with Arista Records and also appeared in the popular film The Blues Brothers. A return to the top of the charts followed with the Luther Vandross–produced Jump to It (1982), whose title track gave Aretha her first Top 10 hit in more than five years. Now back in the spotlight, she parlayed her renewed popularity, working again with Vandross for 1982’s Get It Right and with Narada Michael Walden for 1985’s Who’s Zoomin’ Who, which became her first platinum album and produced three hit singles, including the Grammy Award–winning “Freeway of Love.”
In recognition of her ongoing chart-topping and award-winning output, in 1987 Aretha Franklin became the first woman to earn induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She underlined the honor with the release of her No. 1 duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me).”
Though her popularity as a contemporary artist began to wane following her Hall of Fame induction, Aretha Franklin remained both active and successful. Her 1989 album, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, received a Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Album, and in 1994 she received both a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and Kennedy Center Honors. A lucrative three-album deal with Arista two years later would lead to the gold record A Rose Is Still a Rose, whose title track — produced by Fugees star Lauryn Hill — gave Aretha yet another Top 40 hit, while her much-anticipated autobiography, Aretha: From These Roots, was published in 1999.
The new millennium brought new projects, new honors and more accolades. Aretha’s 2003 album, So Damn Happy, produced two charting singles — giving her the distinction of having chart hits in five consecutive decades — and in 2005 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
After releasing the duet album Jewels in the Crown in 2007, she left Arista to start Aretha Records, and following surgery in 2010 she released her debut on her new label, Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love (2011). Three years later, with her cover of the Adele song “Rolling in the Deep,” she became the first woman in history to have 100 songs in the R&B charts. In fitting tribute to her astronomical career, that same year asteroid 249516 was named “Aretha.”
Although Aretha had continued to record and tour until the end, performing publicly at everything from President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration to Super Bowl XL to the Late Show with David Letterman.
Franklin passed away from advanced form of pancreatic cancer on August 16th, 2018. She is survived by her four sons.
*Excerpts taken from Biography.com
I just can’t believe how hard it is to meet someone. In a world of 7+ billion people, there are millions of us who can’t seem to find someone to be with. Why is this? *If it sounds like I’m about to complain, don’t worry cuz that’s exactly what I’m about to do.*
Why do other people have such great luck, meeting their significant other early in life by being at the right place at the right time, whereas the rest of us get older & older and can’t seem to meet anyone to save our lives! Sure, some of us have issues, but who doesn’t?! Married people have issues. Shoot, married people had issues before they got married & will face different issues throughout the course of their marriage. So, what makes them so different from any of us who have issues? Nothing.
Some women say their standards change as they get older – either they get lowered or the bar goes higher. I can understand the logic on both sides. If you’re getting older & you still don’t have anyone then it makes sense to re-evaluate & perhaps eliminate some of the “unnecessary” requirements that may have precluded you from getting married. On the flip side, as you get older, it’s only natural that you tolerate less, not more. You also have more to lose (mostly financial) and less patience to deal with other people’s mess, so instead of lowering your standards you raise them. You raise them because you know that after all you’ve been through you deserve the best not mediocrity (which is what you would get if you settle). Personally, what I want in a man hasn’t changed (yes, no dads need apply here). Sure, I’m willing to forgo the things that don’t really matter – like looks – but, overall, I don’t think I’m asking for too much in a man.
Other women would settle for less in a man, other women require more. I have met good men, but not the right man. Either I met men who treat me well but are in the “wrong packaging”, or I meet men who look & smell good but don’t know how to treat a lady. Or I meet men who are decent looking and treat me fairly well but they have other issues – like they have children, are lazy daters, too old for me or can’t follow simple directions (like I ask them to call me but they text instead). I just want a regular good ole fashioned gentleman who doesn’t have kids, is age appropriate, attractive & fun to be with.
Honestly, I don’t even know if the type of man that I want actually exists. I dream that he does. I pray that he does. But I have yet to meet, see, touch, or even hear him. Every day that goes by where I don’t meet my future “Mr. Right”, makes me wonder if I should continue to keep hope alive or give up altogether. Surely, there’s got to be someone out there just for me just like all the married women who have gone before me. Only time will tell if the right man will ever show up for me!