High-Profile Black Political Scientist to Lead New Center on Race, Gender and Politics in the South - Higher Education

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High-Profile Black Political Scientist to Lead New Center on Race, Gender and Politics in the South

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by Jamal Eric Watson

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, the witty Black political scientist who has developed a loyal following as a television pundit on MSNBC and a columnist for The Nation, has decided to leave her teaching post at Princeton University to join the faculty at Tulane University, where she will head up a new center focused on race, gender and politics in the South.

The 37-year-old Harris-Perry held a joint appointment in Princeton’s political science and African-American studies departments and will begin at Tulane in the fall. Her chief responsibility will be to develop a center to critically examine the role of progressive politics and the intersection of race, religion and gender in the South. 

Harris-Perry, who received her doctorate from Duke University, was recruited to Princeton from the University of Chicago as a tenured associate professor at the age of 31 after the publication of her book, Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought.  

Her second book, Sister Citizen: A Text for Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Politics When Being Strong Wasn’t Enough, is scheduled to be published later this year by Yale University Press.

“Melissa is one of the country’s well-respected senior political scientists and is highly regarded,” says Dr. Michael Bernstein, Tulane’s provost and senior academic vice president for academic affairs. Bernstein says Harris-Perry’s groundbreaking research and celebrity status will be an added bonus to the university. “The fit and synergy is pretty strong.”

Harris-Perry says she’s excited about her new academic home and wants to situate her research and work in New Orleans post-Katrina.

“Princeton is a wrong fit for me,” says Harris-Perry. “It’s a wrong place for me to live and it’s the wrong intellectual community for me.”

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A profile story of Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry will appear in an upcoming edition of Diverse.

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