Melissa V. Harris-Perry to speak Wednesday night as part of Western’s annual MLK Jr. Commemoration

Melissa V. Harris-Perry. Photo by: Heidi Gutman/MSNBC

Melissa V. Harris-Perry, host of the “Melissa Harris-Perry” show on MSNBC, will be the keynote speaker Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. in the UC Grand Room.

The event is a part of Western Carolina University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, and is free and open to the public.

Along with her TV show, Harris-Perry is a monthly columnist for The Nation; a political science professor at Tulane University and an author of two books, including “Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought,” which won the W. E. B. Du Bois Book Award in 2005.

The MLK Jr. Planning Committee — comprised of campus faculty and staff and a student-majority — chooses the keynote speakers on a yearly basis.

According to James Felton, director of intercultural affairs at Western, speakers are selected based on the criteria of public notoriety, ability to connect with students, experience with MLK Jr. and the civil rights movement, relevancy and availability.

“History is important as it helps us to understand our own individual culture while learning to understand the cultures of others,” said Felton in an email message. “I think there is great value in bringing speakers to campus that are able to recount or articulate the events of the civil rights movement past-present. I am not sure our nation would have achieved the level of equality we get to experience today had it not been for MLK Jr., Rosa Parks, and all of the other countless individuals who worked and marched toward freedom.”

For more information about Harris-Perry and the MLK Jr. commemoration events, visit here.