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

Freshman Folly

Freshman Folly

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Barack Obama still defines himself by what he is not. During the campaign he may have been able to get away with it. No longer. By Shelby Steele.

Freshman Folly

by Shelby Steelevia Advancing a Free Society
Thursday, April 15, 2010

America still has a race problem, though not the one that conventional wisdom would suggest, the racism of whites toward blacks. Old-fashioned white racism has lost its legitimacy in the world and become an almost universal disgrace.

Analysis and Commentary

Barack The Good

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The big government liberalism that Mr. Obama uses to make himself history-making also alienates him in the center-right America of today. . . .

Analysis and Commentary

Obama and Our Post-Modern Race Problem

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The president always knew that his greatest appeal was not as a leader but as a cultural symbol. . . .

Affirmative Distraction

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 9, 2009

How the language of discrimination hurts blacks. By Shelby Steele.

Analysis and Commentary

From Emmitt Till to Skip Gates

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Saturday, August 1, 2009

If the Henry Louis Gates imbroglio makes anything clear it is that, in 2009, the mere implication of racial profiling in the arrest of a black professor...

Analysis and Commentary

Affirmative Action Is Just a Distraction

by Shelby Steelevia Washington Post
Sunday, July 26, 2009

America's war over affirmative action has gone on longer than any of the country's military conflicts, and over the decades each side of this debate has spawned a vast literature of argument...

Nothing More Than Freedom

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Why minorities are estranged from conservatism. By Shelby Steele.

Abraham Lincoln

Better Angels

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Abraham Lincoln matters—even now. By Shelby Steele.

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