Shelby Steele

Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow

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 (HarperCollins, 1998). Other books by Steele include Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country (Basic Books, 2015), 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 (HarperCollins, 1998).

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

In the News

Students In Affinity Houses Say They’re Not All About Identity

quoting Shelby Steelevia The Chronicle of Higher Education
Sunday, September 22, 2019

When Shelby Steele, whose father was black and mother was white, arrived in 1964 for his freshman year at Coe College, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he was assigned an African American roommate.

In the News

Citizen Columnist: The Ultimate Benefits Of Wisdom And Understanding

quoting Shelby Steelevia SC Now
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges we have as individuals is that of making the right choices.

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Area 45: Shelby Steele On Race And Victimization In America

interview with Shelby Steelevia Area 45
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

America’s struggles with white guilt and black self-victimization.


Shelby Steele: In The Wake Of Trump's Comments On Baltimore (31:37)

interview with Shelby Steelevia The Laura Ingraham Podcast
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele discusses President Trump's legitimate criticism of the failures of Democrat leadership in struggling US cities such as Baltimore. Steele debunks the Left's claim that Trump is racist by shining a spotlight on Democrat failures.

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Progress and the Moral High Ground

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The culture war has left America’s minority groups where they started: held up as victims, held back from advancement. Conservatives have a great opportunity to scrap that old, failed narrative.


Shelby Steele On Race And America Today

interview with Shelby Steelevia FrontPage
Monday, April 29, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele talks about race and America.


Shelby Steele On The Ricochet Podcast: Event Horizon (12:33)

interview with Shelby Steelevia Ricochet
Friday, April 12, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele discusses reparations.


Shelby Steele: Cory Booker Introduces Bill To Study Slavery Reparations. Republicans Should Be Elated.

interview with Shelby Steelevia BizPac Review
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele discusses reparations and notes that it is unimaginable that anyone would have the hubris to think you could resolve slavery by making reparations.


Mark Levin Audio Rewind - 4/8/19: Shelby Steele (1:24:56)

interview with Shelby Steelevia Mark Levin Audio Rewind
Monday, April 8, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele discusses reparations for slavery.

American Flag flying over a field

The American Dream Is Very Much Alive: Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Shelby Steele

interview with Shelby Steelevia Varney & Co (Fox Business)
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele discusses the many opportunities available to everyone in America.