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


Shelby And Eli Steele On Michael Brown, Race, And Amazon

interview with Shelby Steelevia Ricochet
Friday, October 23, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele and his son Eli discuss their new documentary What Killed Michael Brown?


Shelby And Eli Steele On Michael Brown, Race, And Amazon

interview with Shelby Steelevia City Journal
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Howard Husock talks with Shelby and Eli Steele about their new documentary, What Killed Michael Brown?, as well as Amazon’s refusal to make the film available on its Prime Video streaming platform. (Update: Amazon is now allowing the film to be streamed.)


Dr. Shelby Steele On How Black Lives Matter & White Guilt Are Hurting Race Relations In America

interview with Shelby Steelevia Brian Kilmeade Show
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele discusses the evolution of race relations in America and how white guilt and the Black Lives Matter movement are hurting race relations today and how they tie into his new documentary What Killed Michael Brown?

In the News

Amazon Cancels Shelby Steele

featuring Shelby Steelevia The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The company won’t stream a film on the ‘real victimization of black America.’

In the News

Michael Brown's Myth And Counter-Narrative

featuring Shelby Steelevia National Review
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Shelby Steele and his son confront racial folklore in their radical documentary What Killed Michael Brown?

In the News

Will Amazon Suppress The True Michael Brown Story?

featuring Shelby Steelevia The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

August was the sixth anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, the black teenager who was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. The incident, and the nationwide coverage it attracted, marked the beginning of a period of mass protests against police, which culminated (let’s hope) after the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this May.

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The Prescience Of Shelby Steele

featuring Shelby Steelevia Quillette
Thursday, October 8, 2020

Shelby Steele is experiencing a revival. For over 30 years, the controversial black American essayist and culture critic has consistently produced some of the most original insights to be found on the precarious issue of race in America and has been met with reactions that range from reverence to revulsion.

In the News

Specters Of Racism: A Conversation With Shelby Steele

featuring Shelby Steelevia American Thinker
Saturday, October 3, 2020

I had the pleasure of recently speaking with Dr. Shelby Steele. Steele is a bestselling author (The Content of Our Character, White Guilt), speaker, and fellow at the prestigious Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He has won many awards, is respected by all who know him, and has a unique view of African American culture today.


Shelby Steele: Sound On: Economic Stimulus, SCOTUS Nominee, 2020 (38:31)

interview with Shelby Steelevia Bloomberg
Thursday, September 24, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele discusses the potential Supreme Court nominee as well as the racial and political divisions in the US.

In the News

Biden Backtracks On Promise To Release List Of Potential SCOTUS Picks

quoting Shelby Steelevia The Federalist
Monday, September 21, 2020

On Sunday, 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden reversed course on a summer pledge to release a list of names identifying potential candidates for the Supreme Court in the event of a vacancy under his presidency.