Meet The Directors
DR. MELISSA HARRIS-PeRRY
Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. There she is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, whose mission is to advance justice through intersectional scholarship. She is also founder and co-director of the innovative bi-partisan program, Wake the Vote.
For more than a decade, Harris-Perry has contributed to American public life through her distinct combination of scholarly analysis and ordinary wisdom applied to the analysis of race, gender, politics, and power. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and many other print and digital venues. She was among the initial cohort of writers for TheRoot.com and authored highly regarded columns for both Essence and The Nation. Currently, she is editor-at-large of Elle.com and a contributing editor at The Nation.
She is the author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.
Along with Dorian Warren, Harris-Perry principal and co-host of Freedom on Tap, an independent media project combining live events, digital, and audio content. She hosted the award winning television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC and in 2016, she won the Hillman Prize for broadcast journalism.
Harris-Perry received her B.A. degree in English from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. degree in political science from Duke University. She also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Harris-Perry previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Tulane University. She serves on several boards and award committees and is a trustee of The Century Foundation.
She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with her husband James, their two fantastic daughters, and a delightful flock of chickens and ducks.
DR. SHERRI WILLIAMS
At the intersection of social media, social justice, reality television, mass media and how people of color use and are represented by these mediums is where you’ll find Dr. Sherri Williams, an assistant professor in race, media and communication at American University. Williams has a particular interest in how black people's use of social media is changing social justice and the entertainment industry, especially television. She is also interested in and studies how marginalized people, especially black women, are represented in the media. National media outlets including CNN, USA Today, Smithsonian Magazine, Vice and the Atlanta Journal Constitution interviewed Williams for her social media expertise. She was also named one of NBC BLK'S fierce black feminists you should know.
For a decade Williams worked in three different newsrooms and traveled to unfamiliar places to deliver stories that matter. Whether she stood in the middle of a Ku Klux Klan rally in Mississippi, a hostage situation at a hotel, the rural countryside of South Africa or the streets of Cuba – Williams transported readers to new places and introduced them to interesting people.
Williams’ career as a print journalist started in 1999 at the Associated Press’ Jackson, Mississippi bureau. She continues to contribute to national media outlets. Williams' work has been published by outlets including The Washington Post, NBC BLK, Elle.com, Self, Essence, Ebony, Upscale and Heart & Soul magazines. She is interested in producing stories about social justice, media representations, health disparities and issues related to the rights of women, the working class and LGBT people. Williams is passionate about preparing the next generation of reporters and led many media workshops when she was a reporter long before she became a professor.
Williams earned a bachelor's degree at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi and a master's and doctorate degree at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She is a former postdoctoral fellow at the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University.