Melissa Harris-Perry: Academic Freedom Is ‘Dead’ at Wake Forest University

Melissa Harris-Perry (MSNBC/screenshot)

Wake Forest Professor and former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry argued in a tweet this week that academic freedom at Wake Forest University is “dead.”

Professor Melissa Harris-Perry tweeted this week that administrators at Wake Forest University are pressuring her to shut down the Anna Julia Cooper Center, a research program led by Harris-Perry that focuses on “intersectional” scholarship.

“Academic freedom is truly dead @WakeForest,” she wrote. “Two days after a public MLK address where I called into question the university’s labor practices Provost @rtkersh sends an email “inviting” me to eliminate @AJCCenter as a university entity & offering a “goodwill” payoff. #notforsale”

Harris-Perry’s tweet suggests that her criticisms of the universities led to a call for her research center to be shut down. In a comment to a local news outlet, however, a Wake Forest spokesperson said that her comments are “misleading” and “disappointing.”

“Her recent comments about the university are misleading and disappointing,” a university spokesperson said in a comment to a local news outlet.

“There is no question that I am a ‘difficult employee’. I don’t play nice or toe the line or pretend injustice does not exist. On Monday I reminded our community @WakeForest benefited from slavery & Jim Crow and we should raise questions as it encroaches downtown,” Harris-Perry wrote in follow-up tweet.

Harris-Perry is infamously remembered for mocking Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandchild.  During an episode of her MSNBC program, Harris-Perry showed a photo of Romney and his many grandchildren. “One of these things is not like the others,” one of Harris-Perry’s guest sang as the photo was displayed on the screen. Harris-Perry burst out in laughter in response.

Harris-Perry eventually gave a tearful apology for the incident. “The segment proceeded in a way that was offensive. Showing the photo in that segment, in that context, was poor judgment,” she said.


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