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The Deacon Blog

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

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Melissa Harris-Perry (’94) lands her own show on MSNBC

Rising media star, Tulane political science professor and Wake Forest alumna Melissa Harris-Perry (’94) makes her debut with her own television show on MSNBC from 10 a.m. to noon ET on Feb. 4. It will air Saturdays and Sundays.

Melissa Harris Perry shines in the media and the classroom

MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a news release this week, “Melissa’s thoughtful analysis has been an incredible addition to our primetime programs and I’m thrilled to have her join our expanded weekend line-up.”

In the news release Harris-Perry called it “an extraordinary opportunity….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.”

Harris-Perry’s show has no name yet, which prompted a flurry of tweets among the professor’s 57,647 Twitter followers to help her name the show. “Since we follow ‘Up w/Chris’ I’ve been lobbying for ‘Uppity w/Melissa,'” she joked in a Tweet. (Chris Hayes will continue to lead weekend programming with his “Up” show, airing from 8-10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.) Among the Tweets in which followers offered names: “Making the Grade,” “News Lockdown,” “Get Schooled,” “Chalk Talk w/MHP” and “Who Dat? It’s Melissa,” with its distinctly New Orleans flavor, lit up the Twitter accounts. I particularly liked the Tweets that said “Class — fine for a teacher and your approach” and “‘Melissa’s News Hootenanny.’ You don’t see enough hootenanny in politics.”

Harris-Perry has been a frequent guest commentator and stand-in host on MSNBC. Aside from teaching at Tulane, she is the founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race and Politics in the South  and the author of “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America,” her newest book, which Yale University Press published last year.

Wake Forest Magazine also featured her in Lisa Kline Mowry’s (’82) article “Teaching It Forward” about distinguished professors nationally who recalled how their undergraduate days inspired them in their profession.

All best wishes to Professor Harris-Perry as she leads a national political discussion in what promises to be a hootenanny of a presidential election year.

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 magazine.wfu.edu.