Melissa Harris-Perry's 2012 Wellesley College Commencement Speech.


Standing in a library reminds us of our own limitations. It encourages us to remember that we don’t know everything, can’t predict every outcome, and don’t even know all the right questions to ask

Professor, political scientist, author, Nation columnist, MSNBC host, and rising “nerdland” icon Melissa Harris-Perry addresses the members of the Class of 2012 and an international audience of their families and friends at Wellesley College’s 134th Commencement Exercises on Friday, May 25, 2012. Melissa delivered a very inspiring speech that implored the graduating students to be: Ignorant, Silent, and Thick.

OK, that’s pretty easily the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.

I often say that the very best day of my life was college graduation. I’ve had two really very nice weddings. And I have a wonderful daughter and the day she was born was lovely, but really all of those days were complicated by all sorts of other things, so I always say that the one day that was pure joy was the day I graduated from college. You should also know I am a high-school dropout; I don’t have a GED or a high school diploma, so it was also the day that it was clear that I was not going to have to go back to Central Virginia to high school. But I think after that moment it is possible now that your college graduation day is my favorite day!

Good morning. I do, in fact, bring greetings from—apparently only the New York branch of—Nerdland.