Harris-Perry is the founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest, whose mission is to advance justice through intersectional scholarship. She is also founder of the innovative bi-partisan program, Wake the Vote.
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 expands 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 Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wake Forest University and her PhD 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.
Denison’s Black Studies Program originated during the turbulent years of the late 1960s when black students across the country demanded that American colleges and universities establish curricula relevant to their lives and pertinent to the changing racial landscape on predominantly white college campuses. With an inaugural interdepartmental “Black Culture in America” course being offered in the Fall of 1968, the beginnings of a Black Studies major in 1970 took seriously the triangular relationship between North America, Africa, and the Caribbean. In the Spring of 1970, Denison’s Board of Trustees officially approved the Black Studies Program.
Today as we begin the celebration of our 50th Anniversary, the interdisciplinary field of Black Studies is the site for the interrogation of topics as broadly arrayed as Rebellion, Resistance and Black Religion; Sexuality and the Black Church; Black Women’s Leadership; African/Diasporan Dance; Race and Ethnicity in the U.S. Economy; Sports and Race in U.S. History; Women’s Voices of Francophone Africa; Critical Pedagogy: Gender, Race and Class in Education; Race and Law; Social Justice Movements; The Harlem Renaissance; and The History of Gospel Music.
Intersecting with fields across the University, Black Studies has had a profound effect on discourse and research in traditional disciplines by transforming established pedagogies, methodologies and epistemologies, especially in the social sciences and humanities. As we prepare to embark upon the next 50 years and beyond, Black Studies continues to prepare our students to expand knowledge production regarding peoples of African ancestry and persists in encouraging them to appreciate multiple perspectives, epistemological multiplicity, cultural diversity, along with class, gender, racial, and sexual intersectionality.
Toni King, Director of Black Studies
John L. Jackson, Co-Chair, 50th Anniversary Planning Committee
Terrance Dean, Co-Chair, 50th Anniversary Planning Committee