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There are a lot of  people that can do many things, but only a few people that can do many things well. Scholar, educator, talk-show host, author, activist, wife and mother Melissa Harris-Perry is one of those people. The 41-year-old host of her self-titled MSNBC talk show, Harris-Perry has broken barriers in the competitive landscape of weekend news programs as one of the few faces of color in that arena.

Harris-Perry grew up outside of Chesterfield, VA. She graduated from Wake Forest University where she has now returned as a Presidential chair and professor of Politics and International Affairs. She earned her Ph.D at Duke University.

Aside from her hosting duties on The Melissa Harris Perry Show, she’a a monthly columnist for The Nation, and the head of the Anna Julia Cooper Center on Gender, Race and Politics in the South. It’s named after the noted 19th century scholar who was one of the first four African-Americans to earn a doctorate and is the only Black woman quoted on U.S. passports.

Harris Perry’s second book Sister Citizen: Shame Stereotypes and Black Women In America encompasses the racism that African-American women face and how it informs their self-esteem, life and political choices.

“The land on which they [the Founders] formed this Union was stolen,” Harris-Perry said in 2012. “The hands with which they built this nation were enslaved. The women who birthed the citizens of the nation are second class….This is the imperfect fabric of our nation, at times we’ve torn and stained it, and at other moments, we mend and repair it. But it’s ours, all of it. The imperialism, the genocide, the slavery, also the liberation and the hope and the deeply American belief that our best days still lie ahead of us.”

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