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.