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

In the News

‘A Bound Man’

by Shelby Steelevia New York Times Book Review
Sunday, February 10, 2008

The first thing I ever heard about Barack Obama was that he had a white mother and a black father...

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Shelby Steele: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race

by Peter M. Robinsonwith Shelby Steelevia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, January 18, 2008

In conversation with Peter Robinson, Shelby Steele explores Barack Obama's candidacy. (33:49) Video transcript

The High-Wire Act of Barack Obama

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shelby Steele on a black presidential candidate—and what his campaign says about the country.

Analysis and Commentary

Obama Is Right on Iran

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Monday, November 26, 2007

After a recent Democratic presidential debate, Barack Obama proclaimed that were he to become president, he would talk directly even to America's worst enemies...

Analysis and Commentary

The age of white guilt

by Shelby Steelevia Globe and Mail (Canada)
Thursday, October 25, 2007

In America, our racial history broadly defines the terms of our politics...

Analysis and Commentary

The Legacy of Little Rock

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fifty years ago today, riot-trained troops from the 101st Airborne Division escorted nine black students through the doors of Central High School in Little Rock...

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Does Racism Matter?

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It no longer stunts the lives of blacks, but the belief that it does remains an article of faith. By Shelby Steele.

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Victory Is the Word

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Why the United States must win in Iraq. By Shelby Steele.

Analysis and Commentary

Racism -- fact or faith?

by Shelby Steelevia Los Angeles Times
Saturday, December 23, 2006

From a police shooting in Queens, N.Y., to a racially charged legal battle involving the Los Angeles Fire Department, from the self-immolation of comedian Michael Richards to the failed Senate campaign of Tennessee's Harold Ford, race is back in the news, bringing with it a batch of new and disturbing questions...

Analysis and Commentary

Our Unceasing Ambivalence

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Friday, December 8, 2006

Possibly the most confounding feature of the Iraq war, from the very opening of hostilities to the present day, has been the American government's utter failure to define what victory would be in this war...