*MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry describes a disturbing encounter with a man in Iowa on Monday while she was there covering the caucuses.
In an essay published at the website of Wake Forest University’s Anna Julia Cooper Center, she said a man stepped to her in a hotel lobby, asking, “What I want to know is how you got credentialed to be on MSNBC.”
“The hairs on my arms stood on end,” wrote Harris-Perry, who watched the caucuses with 22 Wake Forest undergraduate students. She said the man’s tone and words began to ring alarm bells, particularly when he said, “I just want you to know why I am doing this.”
Oh – there is a this. He is going to do a this. To me. And he is going to tell me why.
I freeze. Not even me – the girl in me. The one who was held down by an adult neighbor as he raped her. The one who listened as he explained why he was doing this. She freezes.
I freeze. He speaks. And moves closer. Is there a knife under the coat? A gun? Worse?
And I can’t hear all the words. But I catch “Nazi Germany” and I catch “rise to power.” But I can’t move. I am lulled by a familiar powerlessness, muteness, that comes powerfully and unexpectedly. It grips me. Everything is falling away. Until in my peripheral vision I catch sight of a ponytail, the movement of an arm, the sound of familiar young voices and I remember… my students.
Some of the Wake Forest students came to Harris-Perry’s rescue by joining her and raising their voices at the man until he ran out of the hotel and drove off.
“It is not an exaggeration to say my students may have saved my life,” she wrote.
Read Harris-Perry’s entire essay here.