Ex-MSNBC host, prof invokes 'slavery,' 'Jim Crow' in Twitter tirade against school

Melissa Harris-Perry said that "academic freedom is truly dead."

Perry also said the school benefited from slavery and Jim Crow.

Wake Forest University professor and former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry said in multiple tweets Thursday that “academic freedom is truly dead,” adding that she feels “betrayed” by the school, which “benefited from slavery and Jim Crow.” 

Perry’s comments came just days after she delivered a speech at a nearby church to mark what would have been the 90th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,” according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

”Academic freedom is truly dead @WakeForest. 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,” Perry tweeted. 

”I have given my lifeblood to @WakeForest in recent years- leading two centers @phiwfu and @AJCCenter without pay. And giving tens of thousands as contribution to their work. #notforsale,” Perry wrote in a separate tweet.

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The AJC is the Anna Julia Cooper Center, whose stated mission, according to its Twitter bio, is “advancing justice through intersectional scholarship.” The second center Perry referenced is Pro Humanitate, which, according to its website, is “a core of learning, teaching, service, and action that transforms the ethos of WFU into an explicit mission connected to clear practices with meaningful social justice outcomes.”

”We sustain authentic relationships with local and global partners as we work with WFU students, faculty, and staff to encourage deep academic learning, foster transformative civic engagement, and address community-identified needs in order to build more meaningful lives and a more just world,” the center’s website adds. 

Perry acknowledged in a third tweet that she is “difficult” to work with, but sees the “inequities” at Wake Forest University. 

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”I call them out even as I have worked to give students faculty and staff all I had. #notforsale,” Perry wrote. The political science professor continued by saying that she helped start a bipartisan political program called “Wake the Vote,” for which she says she provided “most of the resources.” Perry said that “students regularly cite” Wake the Vote” as a “top reason” for their interest in WFU. Perry also took credit for directing resources “for the study of girls and women of color.”

Despite all of this, Perry says, WFU “failed to even provide me with a faculty office.” 

”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.  #notforsale,” Perry then tweeted, later adding that “the betrayal” by WFU, her alma mater, is “painful & scary. But I will not break.” 

WFU disputed Perry’s characterization of the university in a statement to the Journal

“Her recent comments about the university are misleading and disappointing,” the statement read.

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