Shelby Steele

Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow
Biography: 

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

California and the Content of Our Character

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, July 30, 2002

An initiative on the California ballot this November dares to take race out of politics. Hoover fellow Shelby Steele explains a measure that could prove historic.

White Guilt = Black Power

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

What the controversy over the Afro-American Studies Department at Harvard says about the state of race relations in America. By Hoover fellow Shelby Steele.

War of the Worlds

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Hoover fellow Shelby Steele reflects on September 11, the ultimate collision between the First and Third Worlds.

The Double Bind of Race and Guilt

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 2001

It was not joblessness that bred the black underclass—it was 35 years of counterproductive government programs. By Hoover fellow Shelby Steele.

A New Front in the Culture War

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 30, 2000

Since the 1960s liberals have held America’s moral high ground. Now conservatives want to charge the hill. By Hoover fellow Shelby Steele.

Analysis and Commentary

Engineering Mediocrity

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, October 30, 2000

The mechanism by which racial preferences engineer “inclusion” is a tolerance of mediocrity in minorities.

We Shall Overcome—by Merit

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Sunday, January 30, 2000

The trouble with affirmative action is that it assumes that membership in a minority group is a handicap in itself. Hoover fellow Shelby Steele argues that the best way to level the playing field is to insist on the same rules for everyone.

Race and Responsibility

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 1999

Thirty-one years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Hoover fellow Shelby Steele explains why King’s dream remains unfulfilled.

The Loneliness of the “Black Conservative”

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Saturday, January 30, 1999

Hoover fellow Shelby Steele on the price of his convictions.

Black Students Need to Be Taught, Not Indoctrinated

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 1997

Black students need to be given good teaching and held to high academic expectations. They don't need ebonics. By Hoover fellow Shelby Steele.

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