Melissa Harris-Perry has been a professor for almost 20 years and she sees her MSNBC weekend TV show as an extension of her classroom.
With “Melissa Harris-Perry” the show, Melissa said she hopes “to provoke [people] to think about things they have not previously thought about, to offer tools for analyzing our social world and … to offer new voices and new people who don’t always have an opportunity to lobby for themselves.”
Melissa’s dad is a professor of urban planning. Her mother is a nonprofit worker. For as long as she can remember, she’s had an interest in issues related to gender, race and inequality. “I first started thinking about the work that I would do with my life very, very early,” Melissa said.
With one passionate on-air commentary, the Tulane University professor and author can spark a national debate on a topic that grassroots activists have been raising awareness about for years. Her weekend MSNBC classroom is a powerful one, but she said she didn’t have any inhibitions about taking her opinions and analyses of social issues on-air. “I think everyone I work with at MSNBC wishes I had more fears and inhabitations. I think the problem is I don’t have very many,” Melissa said with a laugh.
Although 82 percent of American households with a television get MSNBC, Melissa’s studio setting is more intimate than her college lectures. “I actually forget that we’re on television pretty often. I’m only reminded when the control room starts yelling in my ear that we’ve got to go.”
Get more from Melissa in the March 2014 issue of Sister 2 Sister. Subscribe to the monthly magazine here.
Melissa sets the world straight on the viral Harlem Shake. Watch.