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Harris-Perry joined the political science faculty of the University of Chicago in 1999 and taught there for seven years, until 2006, when she accepted a tenured appointment at Princeton University as an Associate Professor of Political Science and African-American Studies.
Harris-Perry left Princeton in 2011 after being denied a full professorship for Tulane University, where she was Founding Director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project, a center for the study of race, gender, and politics in the South.
The one black woman Obama speaks of at any length in “Dreams” is “Regina,” a girl from Chicago he meets at Occidental College.As described in “Audacity,” Michelle’s kitchen sounds suspiciously like Regina’s – “uncles and aunts and cousins everywhere, stopping by to sit around the kitchen table and eat until they burst and tell wild stories and listen to Grandpa’s old jazz collection and laugh deep into the night.” “Dreams” culminates in Obama’s wedding to Michelle.At his most passionate, Obama says of his new bride, “In her eminent practicality and Midwestern attitudes, she reminds me not a little of Toot [his grandmother].” That description must surely have warmed Michelle’s heart. He could not get elected in Chicago without a woman quite like her.“Her voice.” Obama writes, “evoked a vision of black life in all its possibility, a vision that filled me with longing – a longing for place, and a fixed and definite history.” The home life Regina describes – “evenings in the kitchen with uncles and cousins and grandparents, the stew of voices bubbling up in laughter” – proves a powerful lure for Obama. In 1995, Obama had no idea just how famous he would become.In “Dreams,” it is Regina who convinces Obama to abandon the name “Barry.” “Do you mind if I call you Barack? He did not anticipate that others would discover that the “right” way to say his name was the way his father had, BARR-ick, not buh-ROCK.