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

Shamed by the Same Sad History

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 1997

Hoover fellow Shelby Steele argues that the thought of ending affirmative action scares all Americans, black and white. We cannot end racial preferences until we look our fears in the face.

Shelby Steele: The Content of His Character

by Shelby Steele, Peter M. Robinsonvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

Hoover fellow Shelby Steele talks about his opposition to affirmative action, his upbringing, and his hopes for black Americans. An interview with Hoover fellow Peter Robinson.

Race and the Curse of Good Intentions

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

Racists treat whites and blacks differently in the name of white supremacy. President Bill Clinton does so in the name of affirmative action. According to Hoover fellow Shelby Steele, one is as wrong as the other.

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