I had no advance warning of Melissa Harris-Perry abruptly ending; I learned about it like everyone else, in articles and emails and posts. Was startling to realize that my last appearance on the show (clips here and here) was Melissa's penultimate broadcast on MSNBC. Regardless of how everything came to an end, I will truly miss the show—less for the opportunity it has given me to periodically talk about important issues with absolutely amazing people than for its role in elevating the conversation by giving rarely heard voices space on national television. The show was a particularly great space for scholars, writers, and activists (and not just pundits) to share their views. I remember being a panelist on one show, a few years back, and noting that all five of us around Melissa's table were faculty who teach and write about politics. Not one talking-points-reciting "Democratic strategist" or "Republican strategist" in sight. When does that happen on a weekend political chat show?
I'm truly grateful to Melissa and her staff for demonstrating, in front of a national audience, that lively public conversation can go beyond the glib and superficial—and that intellectual and cultural diversity on television is possible, so long as the program is committed to making it happen. I hope that MSNBC will build on the legacy that Melissa and her staff created. There's no reason why our national political conversation can't be a whole lot smarter than it is.