Melissa Harris-Perry show at MSNBC breaks more than gender, race barrier

Historians in the News

Courtney E. Martin is leading The Op-Ed Project’s Public Voices Fellowship Program at Princeton, which aims to get more women and people of color to enter public debate. You can read more about her work at

While watching Melissa Harris-Perry debut her own show on MSNBC last weekend, I found myself reacting with a sort of battered awe: A woman of color, hosting a serious show on a serious cable-news channel? Another glass ceiling, shattered.

Ms. Harris-Perry is the first African American woman to ever solo-host a news and politics show on a major television outlet. But here’s another eureka coup: She’s a tenured professor of political science at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Her professorial credential is beyond unusual for a TV show host. It adds a welcome intellectual quality to a more diverse public conversation. In fact, her website advertises that – in addition to her show on Saturday and Sunday mornings – she will be teaching “Intro to African American Studies” and “America’s First Ladies” at Tulane this spring....

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