Boston Globe Publishes Michael Jeffries’ Op-ed on Melissa Harris-Perry’s Departure from MSNBC

March 3, 2016
Melissa Harris-Perry speaking at Wellesley's 2012 Commencement

The Boston Globe this week published an opinion piece by Michael Jeffries, associate professor of American Studies, in which he explored Melissa Harris-Perry's recent and very public departure from MSNBC. "We have lost Harris-Perry's voice, and the space her show provided, at the time we need it most," he wrote.

Harris-Perry was Wellesley's commencement speaker in 2012. In her speech to the graduates, she quoted poets, children's books, and hip-hop, and also offered "girl advice" which included this: "Don’t nod and smile unless you are happy and agree."

The New York Times reported that Harris-Perry, the now former weekend morning host of a show bearing her name, clashed with the network in "a dispute about airtime and editorial freedom." In an email to her staff (which later became public), Harris-Perry said she felt "worthless" to NBC News executives. An MSNBC spokesman recently confirmed that the network and Harris-Perry were "parting ways."

Harris-Perry is a celebrated political scientist, a professor at Wake Forest University, a speaker and an author. She works, Jeffries wrote, "at the intersection of politics, communication, and identity." He argued that she is uniquely positioned to examine some of the most pressing issues of the moment: racism and sexism in the presidential contest, Black American politics, and intellectual freedom, among others.

"Very few people know all the details of Harris-Perry's relationship with her employer," Jeffries wrote. "But the well-documented marginalization of women and people of color in news media and the entertainment industry provides a deeply troubling context."

Jeffries' research focuses on race, gender, politics, identity, and popular culture. His most recent book is Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America. Read his op-ed, Melissa Harris-Perry too singular a TV voice to lose in the Boston Globe.