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Melissa  Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry

Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, TV Host, Author & Political Commentator


Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. There she is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, whose mission is to advance justice through intersectional scholarship. She is also founder of the innovative bi-partisan program, Wake the Vote.  Read More >

Together with her husband, James Perry, she is a principal of Perry Partnership, offering both political and private consulting. Perry Partnership identifies new talent, develops civic capacity, trains political candidates, deepens democratic engagement, and expand opportunities for real people to make a difference.

For more than a decade, Harris-Perry has contributed to American public life through her distinct combination of scholarly analysis and extraordinary wisdom applied to the analysis of race, gender, politics, and power. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and many other print and digital venues. She was among the initial cohort of writers for TheRoot.com and authored highly regarded columns for both Essence and The Nation. Currently, she is editor-at large of Elle.com and a contributing editor at The Nation.

Committed to diversifying American journalism and mentoring emerging public voices, Professor Harris-Perry has developed and implemented innovative mentoring efforts including the Elle.com scholars program centering the stories of women and girls of color and BLACK ON CAMPUS, a national student journalism program in partnership with The Nation.

She is the author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. She hosted the award winning television show Melissa Harris-Perry from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC and in 2016, she won the Hillman Prize for broadcast journalism.

Harris-Perry received her B.A. degree in English from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. degree in political science from Duke University. She also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Harris-Perry previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Tulane University. She serves on several boards and award committees and is a trustee of The Century Foundation.

Melissa, James, and their two daughters live in North Carolina raising free range chickens and children on Anna’s Park Homestead in hopes of growing sustainable food, lives, and communities. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

Centering Black Women in the American Story

American Elections: Entering 2020 & Understanding 2016

Race, Class, Gender & Activism in American Higher Education

Queering the Colorline: Race, Sexuality & American Politics

Representation: Power, Resistance & Media in American Politics

*Please note Professor Harris-Perry always develops unique lectures for each speaking engagement based on the needs and goals of the event.