'MHP' Syllabus: 5.16.15

Melissa Harris Perry MHP The Syllabus
Melissa Harris Perry MHP The Syllabus

When First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the Tuskegee University graduating class of 2015 last week, it was with a history lesson meant to teach the graduates about overcoming in the face of adversity. And some of folks had all the feelings and critiques—including the notion that the First Lady “disregarded” the university’s founder Booker T. Washington. Melissa Harris-Perry will break down how First Lady Michelle Obama is herself the very embodiment of Washington’s philosophy and how history proved Washington to be wrong: respectability will not inoculate one against racism. Our panelists will discuss FLOTUS’ speech as well as President Obama’s recent comments on race and respectability. Panelists include:

Be sure to check out these interesting reads about The Obamas, race, and respectability politics:

Then, Michael Koval, Chief of Police in Madison, Wisconsin, joins us for an update on the Tony Robinson case.

In the second hour we’ll ask: Is religion over? According to a new Pew Research Center report, “Christians decline sharply as share of population; unaffiliated and other faiths continue to grow.” Unaffiliateds now make up a bigger share than Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and every non-Christian faith.

The rising number of unaffiliated folks seems due largely to two factors: The younger generation—the Millennials—are less likely to be affiliated with a particular religion and people of every age are dropping out of the religions in which they were raised.

We took to the streets to ask people this: What role, if any, does organized religion play in their life? Please share your answer to that question with us on social media using the hashtag #nerdland!

Then, drive 160 miles south of Atlanta and you'll find the rural city of Mount Vernon, Georgia. Traditions run deep in this community situated in the Deep South. Just in 2009, photojournalist Gillian Laub went to this town to photograph Montgomery County High School's segregated proms. And what “began as an exploration of segregated proms in the South became something much more complex, inspiring—and tragic—than [Laub] could ever have imagined." Laub joins us this Saturday to discuss “Southern Rites,” her new HBO documentary  about racial division and progress in a small Georgia town.

Watch the powerful “Southern Rites” trailer here!

All that, plus, an update on the tragic Amtrak accident and a conversation with Arthur Chu, famed Jeopardy! winner, on the state of nerd culture today.

Be sure to read what we’ve linked above, and watch Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday at 10am ET on msnbc. Join the conversation—share your thoughts about these issues on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #nerdland.