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About Us

Launched in the summer of 2001 by Charlton McIlwain (New York University), a communication scholar, and Stephen Maynard Caliendo (North Central College), a political scientist, the Project on Race in Political Communication addresses a gap in systematic research on the intersection of race, politics and communication. 

The aims of the project are to : 1) engage in social science research that centers on the existence and effects of racial messages in political discourse; 2) make available historical and contemporary research and data related to race, politics and communication; and 3) provide tangible examples of and providing commentary about the myriad ways that racial messages have been and continue to be invoked in government, news media and popular culture.

Together, they have co-authored Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Elections (Temple, 2011) and also co-edited The Routledge Companion to Race & Ethnicity (Routledge, 2010). From 2006-2009, Stephen and Charlton also ran the blog THIS WEEK IN RACE to apply social science and critical studies concepts to current events in a way that was accessible to the mass public. Responding to increased demand for academically-informed public discourse, the blog This GUEST on Race was launched in the fall of 2008. Stephen and Charlton have spoken together and individually at colleges, universities, high schools and community events, and they have become regular contributors to international, national and local mass media stories about the role of race and language in American politics. Race Project research has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation (through the grantee Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences), New York University, North Central College and Avila University.  

The Race Project team would like to thank all of the Research Assistants who have helped out since the inception of the Project. If you are a student who would like work on the Race Project, send an email to SMCaliendo@RaceProject.org.


Stephen Maynard Caliendo is Professor of Political Science at North Central College. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Purdue University and focuses his research in the areas of political communication and political psychology. He is the author of Inequality in America: Race, Poverty, and Fulfilling Democracy’s Promise (Westview, 2011). His book Teachers Matter (Praeger, 2000) examines the effects of political socialization on attitudes toward American political institutions. He is a regular analyst for international, national, state and local media outlets.  Download CV here.

Charlton McIlwain is Associate Professor of Media, Culture & Communication at New York University. He is author of the forthcoming book Black Software: The Internet and Racial Justice, From the AFRONET to Black Lives Matter (Oxford University Press). Professor McIlwain has provided expert commentary on a wide range of social issues for state, national and international media including CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times,National Public Radio, the Associated Press, Reuters TV, O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (France), CTV (Canada) and many others. Before working in academia, he worked as a communications director for congressional and gubernatorial candidates and for the Oklahoma Democratic Party. Download CV here

Contact Us

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, smcaliendo@noctrl.edu
Twitter // Facebook // Youtube
Associate Professor of Political Science, North Central College
Dr. Charlton McIlwaincdm1@nyu.edu
Twitter // Facebook // Youtube
Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University

If you’re interested in booking us for a speaking engagement, please inquire using the booking form. For other inquiries, including media requests, please use the form below.

    Part of the mission of The Project on Race in Political Communication is to engage in public dialogue about the myriad issues that reside at the intersection of politics, race, and communication. Accordingly, we make ourselves available to interested groups (primarily colleges and universities) so that we can share our research, offer analysis and engage in discussion with others.

    Scheduling an Appearance:


      What They’re Saying

      Here is what folks are saying about presentations by the Race Project team:

      “Our students’ eyes were opened.” (Phyllis Kurland, Nassau Community College, Garden City, New York)

      “I rarely get to dialogue or discuss race, and it was a real breath of fresh air to hear [Dr. McIlwain’s] perspective, especially in relation to the ’08 election.” (Will Thompson, Student, Lewis & Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho).

      “Our college always looks forward to the presentations of Drs. Caliendo and McIlwain. Whether it’s a discussion of political campaign communication or a controversial topic like “Who can use the N-word?”, our students always enjoy their presentations and learn a great deal from the experience. We try to invite them to campus once a year!” (Dr. Michele Ramsey, Penn State University – Berks)

      “As we close in on an historic presidential election on November 4, I can’t think of a more prescient or provocative professor and commentator than Dr. Caliendo. He is especially cognizant of the covert and overt manner in which race has shaped political discourse and election outcomes. Moreover, he is a prolific scholar, dynamic lecturer, and is able to weave together the most current and occasionally complex political news and dynamics in an accessible manner.” (Dr. Kevan Yenerall, Clarion University)

      “. . . Myself, and I know others felt that it was a shame that we had to end a very engaging discussion when we did…The video [Dr. McIlwain] put together, [his] questions and [his] perspective, and the discussion [he] led were all incredibly interesting, provocative, and important.” (Lisa M. Stulberg, New York University)

      “. . . [Dr. McIlwain’s] talk was just the thing we needed to start off the year with a bang…it was engaging!” (Ana Patel, Packer Collegiate Institute)

      “. . . One student in attendance, who has completed two tours in Iraq since 2003, told a faculty member in our department that all of the money he had spent to attend Penn State University up until this point was completely “worth it” solely because he got to experience Dr. Caliendo’s presentation and that even if he got nothing else out of attending college after this point, he would feel it was money well spent because he had the opportunity to learn from, and interact with, with Dr. Caliendo. This student’s response speaks to the importance of Dr. Caliendo’s presentations in terms of content, but also to his incredible ability to interact with students while both on stage and off.” (Dr. Michele Ramsey, Penn State University – Berks)