ST. PETERSBURG, FL (April 23, 2014) — Melissa Harris-Perry, a political science professor and host of an MSNBC TV show, will be the speaker for the 51st Eckerd College Commencement on Sunday, May 18.
Harris-Perry, author of Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America, is the aunt of graduating Eckerd senior Christina Smith. The Melissa Harris-Perry news and opinion show airs on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon.
Harris-Perry will return to her alma mater, Wake Forest University, as professor of Politics and International Affairs on July 1. She has been named a Presidential Chair, an endowed position that recognizes and supports exceptional faculty who embody Wake Forest’s teacher-scholar ideas. Harris-Perry was a faculty member at Tulane University since 2011.
She previously served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and Princeton University.
“In an era characterized by impoverished political discourse, Dr. Harris-Perry, through her show, has created a forum for probing many of the vexing political and social issues facing our nation,” said Eckerd President Donald Eastman.
“I’m honored to address the 2014 graduating class of Eckerd College,” Dr. Perry said. “My own beloved niece is among the graduates as was her older sister in 2011. Eckerd is truly part of our family now.”
Eckerd has a tradition of inviting respected leaders in their fields. The speakers are not paid. During the ceremony Harris-Perry will receive an honorary degree from Eckerd.
Harris-Perry is director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South, which studies how women’s politics in the South are shaped by the intersection of gender and race. She received a B.A. in English from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University.
Previous Eckerd College Commencement speakers include Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, environmental activist Bill McKibben, civil rights icon John Hope Franklin, journalist Eugene Patterson, novelist Dennis Lehane ’88, Florida Congressman C.W. Bill Young, Poynter Institute President Karen Brown Dunlap, St. Petersburg Poet Laureate Peter Meinke, Florida Congresswoman Kathy Castor, businessman Steve Forbes and General David Petraeus.