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. 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


The Promise Of President Trump: Shelby Steele

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Thursday, January 19, 2017

‘Mr. Trump’s special charisma is that he seems to function entirely outside the framework of today’s cultural liberalism.’

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Trump, Clinton And The Culture Of Deference

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Monday, November 7, 2016

Political correctness functions like a despotic regime. We resent it but we tolerate it.


Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country

by Shelby Steelevia Basic Books
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The United States today is hopelessly polarized; the political Right and Left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps, preventing any sort of progress. Amid the bickering and inertia, the promise of the 1960s—when we came together as a nation to fight for equality and universal justice—remains unfulfilled.

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Shelby Steele on Shame

by Shelby Steelevia Fellow Talks
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shelby Steele discusses his latest book Shame How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country.

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
Analysis and 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.

Hoover fellows Peter Robinson (left) and Shelby Steele

Uncommon Knowledge with Hoover fellow Shelby Steele and the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol

with Shelby Steele, Bill Kristolvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Hoover fellow Shelby Steele and the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol discuss the elections.
Mitt Romney: "I believe that if America does not lead, others will—others who do not share our interests and values—and the world will grow darker."

Trayvon Martin protest in Austin, Texas
Analysis and 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...

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Analysis and 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.