(Cosmopolitan) – On Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, the last episode of the Melissa Harris-Perry show with Harris-Perry as host aired on MSNBC. Just as in many previous episodes of the two-hour weekend show, a diverse array of guests weighed in on a range of topics from sports to electoral politics. The lack of seasoned political pundits was a distinct feature of the show and of this particular episode, which featured segments about the presidential primaries and the eighth GOP presidential debate. Invited guests on the show were activists, academics, community organizers, people from the communities being discussed, emergent and established writers. On this particular Sunday, guests included Rutgers professor and writer Brittney Cooper, political sportswriter Dave Zirin, journalist Michael Arceneaux, political speechwriter Elise Jordan, civil rights attorney Jane Kim, former NFL linebacker and sports radio host Ben Leber, and four students from Wake the Vote, a student-centered civic engagement program. Notably, these guests represented a spectrum of racial, gender, sexual, class, religious, and political identities.
Over the course of the four-year tenure of the show, Harris-Perry and her team created a mainstream media space in which thought-provoking conversations about current affairs outside of the traditional “talking heads” model thrived. The traditional model primarily relies upon white men as journalists, pundits, and commentators. The Melissa Harris-Perry show provided a platform for her, a black woman and a well-respected political scientist, and other women and racial and ethnic minorities to contribute to substantive conversations about current affairs. It is hard to imagine that any cable news show featured more women of color as guest commentators than Harris-Perry’s did during the show’s run.
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