The Deacon Blog

A magazine staff blog with news of alumni and the WFU community


Melissa Harris-Perry (’94): a ‘marquee name’ at Tulane

You won’t want to miss The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune’s in-depth profile of Melissa Harris-Perry (’94), who, after four years at Princeton, is now a tenured professor in her first year of teaching at Tulane University. The piece refers to her as a marquee name. “She’s a public intellectual,” says Tulane Provost Michael Bernstein.

Melissa Harris Perry shines in the media and the classroom

Aside from her 47,741 Twitter followers, Harris-Perry has viewers, listeners and readers across the country paying attention. She has been a guest host for “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” on MSNBC. She has appeared on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” writes a column for The Nation magazine and regularly comments on NPR and online on issues involving race, religion, politics and gender.  “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America,” her newest book, was published last month.

“Women in Politics, Media, and the Contemporary United States” is the political science course she teaches this semester in what sounds like a lively classroom with lots of back-and-forth questions and cultural references. “When she’s speaking, she owns the room,” Cara Fonseca, one of the students, told The Times-Picayune’s John Pope. “But she makes the environment so comfortable, bringing in pop culture. That’s what keeps students engaged, the balance between academics and pop culture.”

The Times-Picayune also mentions Harris-Perry’s time at Wake Forest. You’ll see more about that in the fall issue of Wake Forest Magazine, due in alumni mailboxes this month.  The article by Lisa Kline Mowry (’82) features a selection of professors around the country who recount experiences in their undergraduate days that sparked their interest in an academic career. Watch for those magazines soon — and Melissa Harris-Perry — and follow updates online at

Shane Harris on the Patriot Act’s renewal

The federal government’s investigative powers received a booster shot last week when Congress renewed the Patriot Act. National Public Radio’s “On the Media” turned to Shane Harris (’98), who has been writing about intelligence and national security for 10 years, to analyze the legislation.

Harris is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine and the author of “The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State.” Time magazine said the book “reads like a spy novel,” but Harris “lays out the U.S. government’s real-life efforts to see and hear more in the face of growing terrorist threats.”

Shane Harris ('98), author, senior writer, analyst

In the radio interview Harris summarized the three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act that allow the government to obtain multiple wiretaps when tracking a single person; obtain various business records, including hotel and rental car documents; and start surveillance on someone even if the government can’t show the person is connected to a terrorist organization or is a foreign agent or a spy. Harris was also intrigued by a senator’s accusation that there could be “secrecy within secrecy” in the way the government is interpreting the act to allow for the collection of more information.

The summer issue of Wake Forest Magazine features a Q&A with Harris called “Spy Talk.” He recalls his Wake Forest days and remembers having had “extraordinary opportunities to write, and extraordinarily forgiving instructors.” Stay tuned, alumni. The magazines should arrive in your mail early this month, and we hope to have the online edition available in the next few days.