Shelby Steele


Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He specializes in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action. He was appointed a Hoover fellow in 1994.

Steele has written widely on race in American society and the consequences of contemporary social programs on race relations.

In 2006, Steele received the Bradley Prize for his contributions to the study of race in America. In 2004, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal. In 1991, his work on the documentary Seven Days in Bensonhurst was recognized with an Emmy Award and two awards for television documentary writing—the Writer's Guild Award and the San Francisco Film Festival Award.

Steele received the National Book Critic's Circle Award in 1990 in the general nonfiction category for his book The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America. Other books by Steele include A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win (Free Press, 2007), White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (HarperCollins 2006) and A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America.

Steele has written extensively for major publications including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a contributing editor at Harper's magazine. He has also spoken before hundreds of groups and appeared on national current affairs news programs including Nightline and 60 Minutes.

Steele is a member of the National Association of Scholars, the national board of the American Academy for Liberal Education, the University Accreditation Association, and the national board at the Center for the New American Community at the Manhattan Institute.

Steele holds a PhD in English from the University of Utah, an MA in sociology from Southern Illinois University, and a BA in political science from Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Recent Commentary

Who Speaks for Black Americans?

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 18, 2013

When jurors rejected the racial narrative surrounding the Zimmerman trial, they also rejected certain present-day civil rights leaders.

The Supreme Court
Featured Commentary

The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Sunday, July 21, 2013

The verdict that declared George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin was a traumatic event for America's civil-rights establishment, and for many black elites across the media, government and academia.

Trayvon Martin protest in Austin, Texas
Featured Commentary

The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Thursday, April 5, 2012

The absurdity of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites...

GOP Image
Featured Commentary

What does a conservative believe?

by Shelby Steelevia Time Magazine
Thursday, February 2, 2012

Conservatism is the road ahead because it is an idea of what we can do for ourselves...

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Obama and the Burden of Exceptionalism

by Shelby Steelevia Advancing a Free Society
Thursday, September 1, 2011

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times: President Obama is destroying the country. Some say this destructiveness is intended; most say it is inadvertent, an outgrowth of inexperience, ideological wrong-headedness and an oddly undefined character.

Featured Commentary

Obama and the Burden of Exceptionalism

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Thursday, September 1, 2011

Post-'60s liberals, with the president as their standard bearer, seek to make a virtue of decline...

Obama’s Unspoken Re-Election Edge

by Shelby Steelevia Advancing a Free Society
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Many of the Republican presidential hopefuls should be able to beat President Obama in 2012. This president has a track record now and, thus, many vulnerabilities.

Featured Commentary

Obama's Unspoken Re-Election Edge

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to match...

Other Media

Closing the Door on Innovation: Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America

by John E. Chubb, David Davenport, Richard A. Epstein, Williamson M. Evers, Robert P. George, David R. Henderson, Edwin Meese III, Michael McConnell, Shelby Steele, Herbert J. Walbergvia
Monday, May 9, 2011

A Critical Response to the Shanker Institute Manifesto and the U.S. Department of Education’s Initiative to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments Based on National Standards...


The 'Two or More Races' Dilemma: Take the Politics Out of Race

by Shelby Steelevia Room for Debate (New York Times)
Sunday, February 13, 2011

Identity politics is a cynical and dehumanizing business that, in the end, helps no one. Better to eliminate all such categories and leave race and identity in the private realm...