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Dear Friends,

June was an exciting month that brought with it wonderful new experiences, terrific victories, and opportunities to give back to the communities I love.

Early in June I was invited to appear on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. I have grown accustomed to having only 3 minutes to make a point on TV, so I really loved the long format and the light-hearted atmosphere of the show. If you missed it, here it is.

Later in the month I was honored as one of the winners of the “40 under 40” award given by the New Leaders Council. NLC is a terrific organization with a mission to train and support the next generation of progressive, political entrepreneurs. Winning this award is both humbling and inspiring. Just check out the extraordinary accomplishments of the other 39 members of the 2011 class! My goal is to continue to work hard and endeavor to earn this honor.

June also saw passage of marriage equality in New York. It is yet another step in a long struggle to which so many of us are committed.

Finally, I am excited to introduce all of you to Syrena Johnson. She is the first winner of the Chef’s Move! Scholarship of the John Besh Foundation. I am honored to sit on the board for this amazing scholarship and all of us are beside ourselves with excitement that New Orleans native Syrena Johnson will be attending the French Culinary Institute in New York this fall as our first award winner. I will update you on Syrena and her progress many times over the coming year.

In July I take my annual writing retreat. No email. No Twitter. Few media appearances. Just my laptop and me. Heaven. See you all on the other side.


TV Appearances

HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher
June 3, 2011

Voter Suppression Tactics
The Rachel Maddow Show
June 17, 2011

Discussing “Weinergate”
The Rachel Maddow Show
June 6, 2011

Rihanna and the Role of Popular Culture in Women’s Empowerment
The Thomas Roberts Show
June 2, 2011

Can Obama Recapture the Spirit of 2008?
The Thomas Roberts Show
June 21, 2011


Is Newt Gingrich Right About Black Voters?
The Nation
June 28, 2011

When Newt Gingrich suggested recently that Republicans should court African-American voters in 2012, the claim drew both ire and guffaws. His insistence, in an attack on the president’s jobs record, that “no administration in modern times has failed younger blacks more than the Obama administration” is demonstrably false, yet his suggestion that Republicans can reap electoral rewards by cultivating black voters is not ridiculous. Jeer as we might at the idea that black voters will abandon Obama for Romney, Gingrich or Pawlenty, the question of whether and how Republicans can be competitive among black voters is a good one.

Read the Full Article
Three Things I Love about Herman Cain’s Campaign
The Nation
June 1, 2011

I have watched the Herman Cain 2012 campaign video repeatedly. It is a four-minute glimpse into one of the least understood aspects of American political life: black conservatism. The initial impulse among many Democrats (and frankly most Republicans) is to dismiss Cain’s bid for the presidency as quixotic and a bit incomprehensible. I understand that impulse. I do not think Herman Cain will secure the GOP nomination for the US presidency. I understand why devoting media coverage to a unlikely campaign can seem wasteful and distracting, but the Cain campaign video, and potentially the campaign itself, is a bit Americana performance art worth understanding.

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Palin and the Memory of Literacy Tests
The Nation
June 9, 2011

I first saw Sarah Palin’s description of Paul Revere last week during my appearance on Bill Maher’s Real Time. Palin’s mangled, close-but-not-quite retelling of the famous patriot provoked me to hearty laughter, but also piqued my professorial impulse to urge on a clearly confused, but absolutely earnest student who is searching for the right answer. As I listened to her I thought, “come on… you’re on the right track… that’s almost it…. aw, no, now you’re just wrong.” For the most part it seemed like a harmless Palinism. Good for an easy laugh, but certainly no indication of her ability to attract followers, compel listeners and command media attention.

Read the Full Article
Republicans Reject the Middle - Again
The Nation
June 15, 2011

This morning I had the pleasure of talking with Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist and fellow MSNBC contributor Clarence Page. Motivated by Monday night’s debate in New Hampshire, he and I discussed the current field of GOP candidates. I indicated my distress at hearing so many of them parrot the talking points of the Tea Party and my surprise that the new litmus test for being prolife required the candidates to reject a right to abortion even in the case of rape, incest and threat to the life of the woman. In response, Page reminded me of the 1964 Republican National Convention when Nelson Rockefeller was booed by Goldwater delegates. It was a useful reminder.

Read the Full Article
- June 2011 -
About Melissa
Melissa Harris-Perry is professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. Her academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate the challenges facing contemporary black Americans and to better understand the multiple, creative ways that African Americans respond to these challenges. She is also an award winning author and appears regularly on MSNBC and other media venues.
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Annette Luba-Lucas