I was 16 years old when I met Melissa Harris Perry. Back then she was Melissa Harris-Lacewell, and she spent time with me and a group of other Kenwood Academy high schoolers to talk about feminism and hip hop. Our sessions were building up to the first national Feminism and Hip Hop conference at the University of Chicago. You can watch videos from the conference’s sessions here.
This was the first public space I’d be in that would validate my feminist critiques of hip hop without attempting to invalidate my love for the genre. It was a pivotal moment in my understanding of identity politics and although it would be years before I identified as a feminist, Melissa Harris-Perry was the first person to let me be one.
So today I hope all of you will join me in celebrating the life of an amazing thinker, writer, professor, host, and black girl!
Happy birthday Melissa Harris-Perry!