Reagan, Rhetoric, and Racism: Presidential Speeches and the War on Drugs

Presentation author(s)

Aryssa Harris ’21, Champaign, Illinois

Majors: Political Science; Sociology
Minor: Spanish


The president of the United States is in a unique position. Often times the President is who we, as Americans, look to for information, inspiration, and guidance. With that being said, we, political scientists, understand that what the President chooses to speak about impacts what citizens deem important. It is also understood that the War on Drugs led to mass incarceration in the US and racial sentencing disparities. This research is taking these two concepts to understand how presidential rhetoric influences the language of the policies written during the War on Drugs. I am completing original research, with a focus on Ronald Reagan and his speeches.


Rachel Ellett

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