Ithaca, N.Y. — MSNBC show host Melissa Harris-Perry delivered the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture in Sage Chapel on Monday.

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Harris-Perry spoke about racial inequality, the Civil Rights movement, racial stereotyping in media coverage and a host of other topics in her talk.

Cornell Dean of Students Kent Hubbell introduced Harris-Perry

Here are 11 quotes and 15 photos from her performance:

1 – “The one thing that is good about the Tea Party is that they understand you have a right to speak even if you have lost.”

2 – “Democracy is for losers, because if you lose, you don’t give up your rights … That’s what makes being in a Democracy hot shit.”

3 – (speaking to student organizers) “If you’re able to get even two friends to follow you, thats great.  Jesus only had like 12 followers, and one of them turned out to be wack.”

4 – “The artist can look at urban chaos and create order, and look at imposed order and show the chaos behind it.”

5 – “Is a black leader’s body more powerful in a tomb?”

6 – “If it is no longer a big deal to see black bodies breaking on television, what must black bodies do now?” …

“We must become artists.”

7 – (talking about people on the roofs after Katrina) “Newscasters would say, it looks like Mogadishu down there, or Port-au-Prince.  Why do we look foreign to you?  And if so, why not like Serbia?”

8 – “A lot of things I’m irritated about the Oscars last night.  The director, she chose not to use the movement music, shows things almost silent.  It was very quiet intentionally, and shot from the height of an observer….  Why is the song the one thing that wins?  Why did they have to win for a song?  Better than Hard Out Here for a Pimp, but…”

9 – “I understand that this is a lovely town, I will have to come back when it’s habitable.”

10 – There is “something about black and white images of civil rights movements that make it feel distant.”

11 – “When blacks are celebrating high unemployment, around 10%, that’s white unemployment at it’s worst.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.